HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
W. C. ALLEN
Superintendent Weldon Public Schools
AUTHOR OF NORTH CAROLINA HISTORY STORIE&
A child's history of north CAROLINA
CENTENNIAL HISTORY OF HAYWOOD COUNTY
WHIGS AND TORIES
THE CORNHILL COMPANY
Copyright, 1918, by
The Cornhill Company
MAR 22 1919
In September, 1915, Mrs. W. C. Allen, at the time.
President of the Junius Daniel Chapter of the United
Daughters of the Confederacy, of Weldon, suggested to
the chapter the idea of writing the history of Halifax
County as the year's work. The membership responded
enthusiastically to the suggestion and unanimously de-
cided to begin the task.
An outline of the county's history was made and top-
ics assigned for investigation. The following members
contributed papers : Mesdames Ida Wilkins, W. E. Dan-
iel, J. W. Sledge, J. A. Johnston, Lee Johnson, J. A.
Musgrove, W. A. Pierce, 0. W. Pierce, J. W. Pierce,
T. C. Harrison, J. S. Turner, L. C. Draper, R. S.
Travis, John Zollicoffer, W. L. Knight, Ashby Dunn, H.
D. Allen, W. T. Shaw, and Misses Mary Sledge, Julia
Rhem, Laura Powers, and Annie Musgrove. These pa-
pers, together with notes and additions by the editor, con-
stitute the story as it appears in this volume. In order to
secure harmony of expression the editor has had to re-
write most of the material that was handed in. He has
had also to verify the facts in order to be sure that there
should be no misstatements. It is believed that a true
story of the county is herein given.
Halifax is one of the real historic counties of the state,.
for within its borders some of the most important events
in the making of North Carolina have taken place. Many
of the men who have had much to do with the shaping of
the State have either been natives of the county or have
resided here at different periods of their lives. Through-
out the colonial and Revolutionary periods, as well as the
years since, Halifax County has played a conspicious part
in the stirring events that have made North Carolina
history so interesting and in the development of the
With the hope that this little volume will help to in-
troduce Halifax County more intimately to its own peo-
ple and serve to make it better known to people of other
counties and states, the authors and editor now send it
iorth upon its mission.
The Original Inhabitants 3
The Evolution of the County .... 6
Early Settlements 9
Formation of the County 14
Forerunners of the Regulator Movement 18
MUTTERINGS OF THE COMING StORM . . .21
Leading up to the Revolution .... 26
Halifax County and National Independ-
National Independence Proclaimed in
The Birthplace of the State Constitu-
Early Days of the Revolution ... 44
Halifax County and the American Navy 48
Passing Events 52
XIV. The British Occupation of Halifax . . 56
XV. Years Succeeding the Revolution ... 62
XVI. Halifax County and the National Consti-
XVII. First Two Decades of the Nineteenth
XVIII. The Visit of Lafayette 73
XIX. Intellectual Development 76
XX. Social and Economic Development . . 80
XXI. Coming of the Railroads 86
XXII. "Royal White Hart Lodge" 92
XXIII. Events Leading to the Civil War ... 99
XXIV. In the Legislative Halls of the State . 102
XXV. The Call to Arms 106
XXVI. War's Alarms 110
XXVII. The Construction and Service of the
XXVIIL Closing Incidents of the War .... 121
XXIX. Reconstruction Days 128
XXX. Since Reconstruction Days 132
XXXI. Some Odds and Ends of History . . 136
XXXII. Summary 143
Builders of the County
I. Joseph Montford 149
II. John Baptista Ashe 151
HI. Willie Jones 153
rV. William R. Davie 156
V. James Hogan 162
VI. Samuel Weldon 165
VII. John Haywood 165
VIII. Willis Alston 168
IX. Willis Alston, Jr 169
X. Nicholas Long 170
XI. Orondates Davis 171
XII. John Bradford 172
XIII. John Paul Jones 173
XIV. Abraham Hodge 176
XV. John Branch 177
XVI. Hutchings G. Burton 181
XVII. Joseph J. Daniel 183
XVIII. John R. J. Daniel 185
XIX. Bynum and Potter 186
XX. Bartholomew F. Moore 188
XXI. Andrew Joyner 190
XXII. Lawrence O'Bryan Branch 192
XXIII. Edward Conigland 194
XXIV. Junius Daniel 196
XXV. Francis M. Parker 201
XXVI. Spier Whitaker 202
XXVII. Walter N. Allen 204
XXVIII. Thomas L. Emry 206
XXIX. Richard H. Smith 209
XXX. George Green Lynch 212
XXXI. Thomas N. Hill 215
XXXII. Peter Evans Smith 218
XXXIII. Robert O. Burton, D. D 220
XXXIV. Robert O. Burton, Jr 223
XXXV. William T. Shaw, Jr. ...... . 227
Others Who Have Wrought 229
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Map of Halifax County Facing
Whitfield Avenue, Enfield, N. C. .
Grave of Joseph Montford .... "
Continental Currency "
George Washington "
John Paul Jones "
Battle between the Serapis and Bon-
homme Richard "
William R. Davie "
John Haywood "
Lafayette's Return "
The Roanoke River, near Weldon, N. C. "
Royal White Hart Lodge "
B. F. Moore
Confederate Monument, Weldon, N. C. "
William R. Cox
The General Davis Home, Halifax, N. C. "
Old Trinity Church, Scotland Neck,
The Grove House "
Reception to Washington .... "
The Roanoke Mills, Roanoke Rapids,
A Typical Southern Scene .... "
Washington Avenue, Weldon, N. C. . "
Colonial Cemetery, Halifax, N. C. . "
Main Street, Roanoke Rapids, N. C. . "
xii LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
One of the Good Roads, Halifax County,
N. C Facing Page 200
Court House, Halifax, N. C " " 208
M. W. Ransom " "216
Main Street, Littleton, N. C. . . . " " 224
Halifax County is situated in the northern portion of
North Carolina, the most northerly point of the county
lacking only about six miles of touching the Virginia
State line. The Roanoke river skirts its northeastern
border and Fishing Creek, a tributary of the Tar river,
bounds it on the southwest. A strip of Martin County
joins Halifax on the south. Warren County is on the
The county is slightly triangular in shape, the narrow
part of the triangle being the southwestern portion and
broadening toward the northeast. It is about sixty miles
long and averages about twenty miles wide, and contains
nearly 681 square miles of land surface.
In the southeastern section of the county, along the
banks of the Roanoke river, the surface is level and the soil
IS exceedingly fertile. In the northwestern division, par-
ticularly west of the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad,
the surface is rolling, resembling very much the Piedmont
section of the state. Near the larger water courses, mini-
ature canyons are frequent, through which the smaller
streams flow in their ceaseless journey to the larger ones.
At frequent intervals, along the Roanoke, "guts" pour
their muddy volume of water into the giant stream.
On account of a curious topography, more than three-
fourths of the drainage is south and southwest into Fish-
ing Creek, the water shed lying quite close to the south
bank of the Roanoke.
Besides the Roanoke river and Fishing Creek, which
are not wholly within the county, there are a number of
other water ways that give form and character to the
surface. Flowing into the Roanoke, are Kehukee, Look-
ing Glass, Quanky, Chockayotte, and Deep Creeks, and
Conocanara and Cypress Swamps. Into Fishing Creek
the following streams find their way: Deep, Powells,
Butterwood, and Little Fishing Creeks and Marsh, Beech,
Beaver Dam, Burnt Coat, Rocky, Jack Horse, and Bear
swamps. Besides these, numerous rivulets and "branch-
es" wind hither and thither in meadows and valleys.
There are two Deep Creeks, one in the northern and an-
other in the southern end of the county.
The climate is mild, highly suitable either for summer
or winter residence and free from the extremes of either
season. Out-door work is seldom interrupted by ex-
cessive heat or cold, or violent storms. The ground is
seldom covered with snow for more than a few hours at
the time. The mean annual temperature is about 58 de-
In the eastern and southern portions of the county, the
soil is a gray sandy loam with a brown or red subsoil. In
the western and northern section, a red clay subsoil and
sandy loam predominate. Along the water ways, the
soil is, in many j)laces, made up of rich vegetable deposits
and is very fertile.
The chief crops are cotton, corn, tobacco, potatoes, pea-
nuts, hay, and oats. Many a farmer averages more than
one hundred dollars an acre for his money crops.
The water power, supplied by the Roanoke river, is a
source of present as well as future prosperity. From a
point five miles above Roanoke Rapids, the river makes a
fall of eighty-five feet to Weldon, thus furnishing a source
of almost unlimited power. Numerous factories at Roa-
noke Rapids, Rosemary, and Weldon are supplied from
this source, and those towns are also furnished with elec-
tric lights thereby.
In the eastern division of the county, the forest growth
belongs to the normal type of upland piney woods, mixed
with red cedar. Pine is the most important timber pro-
duct. Oak predominates in the western portion with an
intermixture of hickory, sweetgum, and dogwood. Near
the river banks, the willow, ash, sycamore, maple, and
Roanoke river, in the last few years, has been stocked
with rockfish. Abundant also are shad, carp, catfish, and
several other varieties. At certain seasons of the year
the fishing interests are valuable.
For many years, both before and after the War be-
tween the States, the county was well supplied with deer,
but the vigilance of the hunter has rendered that kind of
game scarce. Squirrels and quails are found in large num-
bers in all parts of the county. Wild turkeys are found in
certain sections. Wild geese and ducks are hunted on the
Roanoke during the winter months.
Agriculture is the chief occupation of the people.
Manufacturing cotton goods, hosiery, damask, pulp, and
lumber form another important line of business. Peanut
factories, cotton seed oil mills, fertilizer factories, and box
factories also give employment to hundreds of men and
In 1916, the aggregate value of real and personal
property in the county was over ten million dollars.
There are six towns of considerable importance, name-
ly, Enfield, Halifax, Roanoke Rapids, Rosemary, Scotland
Neck, and Weldon. Besides these, there are Hobgood,
Tillery, Palmyra, Hollister, Ringwood, and Thelma. Lit-
tleton, a town of much importance, is partly in Halifax
and partly in Warren County. Halifax has the distinction
of having been at different times the seat of government
of the province and afterwards of the new State. It also
has the higher distinction of being the birthplace of the
State Constitution and where the famous Independence
Resolutions were passed April 12, 1776. Enfield is the
oldest town in the county and was for several years the
seat of Edgecombe county when it included Halifax. En-
field was also for a number of years the site of the district
court of the counties of Edgecombe, Granville, Bute, and
Weldon, Roanoke Rapids, and Rosemary are extensive-
ly engaged in manufacturing. Scotland Neck is in the
centre of the peanut industry, and is one of the largest
markets in the world for that product. Hollister is a new
town near the Warren County line where extensive lum-
ber manufacturing is done. Hobgood is the junction of
two branches of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad.
There are twelve townships in the county as follows:
Brinkleyville, Butterwood, Conocanara, Enfield, Faucetts,
Halifax, Littleton, Palmyra, Roanoke Rapids, Roseneath,
Scotland Neck, and Weldon.
Two trunk lines of railroads traverse the county. The
Atlantic Coast Line, the highway from New York to Flor-
ida, crosses the central section of the county. The Sea-
board Air Line passes through the northern portion and
makes connection at Weldon with the Atlantic Coast Line.
The Kinston Branch extends from Weldon to Kinston
in Lenoir County through one of the finest sections of
There are extensive cotton and knitting mills at Roa-
noke Rapids, Rosemary, Weldon, and Scotland Neck.
There is also a large pulp mill at Roanoke Rapids. A
large lumber plant at Weldon exports large quantities of
lumber. Peanut factories at Weldon and Scotland Neck
prepare immense quantities of peanuts for the northern
and western markets. There is at Weldon, also, an ice
plant that supplies a large section of country.
Great improvements are constantly being made in
building and equipping school houses, in the standardiz-
ing of the teaching force, in the enrichment of the course
of study, and in the attendance of pupils. Besides the ru-
ral public schools that are found in every neighborhood,
there are successfully operated city graded schools in
Weldon, Enfield, Littleton, Roanoke Rapids, Rosemary,
and Scotland Neck. At Littleton, there is a college for the
education of girls. At Enfield is the School of Technology
for the colored race.
HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
THE ORIGINAL INHABITANTS.
Previous to the coming of white people, the Tuscarora
tribe, or nation, of Indians held sway over the whole of
Halifax County. They were the dominant peoples in
Eastern North Carolina before the Albemarle country
was settled. It is difficult to make an estimate as to the
numbers of Indians that occupied the territory of the
county at the time of the first settlements in the State.
Excavations in various sections have brought to light
many remains of that extinct race, which lead to the opin-
ion that they were numerous along the banks of the Roa-
noke river and Fishing creek, but few and scattered in
other places. Perhaps there were never more than a
thousand in the county.
The country possessed by the Tuscaroras lay mostly
along the Roanoke river, on both sides, and on the Neuse
and the Tar. Other tribes in Eastern North Carolina
were under the control to a large extent of the Tuscaro-
ras and acknowledged their sway. Among these smaller
tribes may be mentioned the Meherrins and the Yeopins,
who lived in what is now Currituck, Camden, Pasquo-
tank, Gates, and Northampton counties ; the Pungos, the
Chowanokes, and Croatans in what is now embraced in
the counties of Perquimans, Chowan, Washington, Tyr-
rell, Dare, and Hertford; and the Corees, the Matche-
4 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
pungos, and the Mattamusketts in Hyde, Beaufort, Car-
teret, and Pamlico. Besides these, there were several
other smaller and less important tribes ; but none of them
lived in Halifax County.
It is remarkable that for more than fifty years after
the first settlements of white people in North Carolina
there was complete peace between the races. While there
were dreadful Indian wars and massacres in Virginia and
the New England colonies, peace reigned in North Caro-
lina between the white man and his red skin brother. This
condition may be accounted for on the ground that the
early settlers were regardful of the rights of the Indian,
careful not to take their lands without recompense, pay-
ing them honestly for their furs, and abstaining from all
acts of violence and hasty vengeance.
As in other parts of North Carolina, the Indians of
Halifax County were living in a savage state. Their culti-
vation of the soil was of the rudest kind. Hardly any
agricultural products were raised. Only a little Indian
corn and a few potatoes, pumpkins, and melons were
grown. The entire county with few exceptions was an
unbroken wilderness. The women did what little agri-
cultural work was done. The men hunted the deer, the
raccoon, the buffalo, and the wild turkey. The dress of
both men and women was of the simplest sort, consisting
of skins and gorgeous headgear. Their homes were the
wigwam made in the easiest way of poles covered with
bark or skins of beasts that had been killed in the chase.
In religion, they were pagan, believing in a Great Spirit
that presided over the happy hunting ground of the be-
Nothwithstanding the fact that these Indians were few
and in the lowest savage state, they have left some im-
pression upon the county. Besides the relics that have
been found in various localities, consisting of arrow heads
and tomahawks of stone and specimens of pottery, they
have left some names, such as Quanky, Chockayotte, Ke-
hukee, and Conocanara.
THE ORIGINAL INHABITANTS 5
It is not known how soon the Indians vanished from
the history of the county, but it is fairly well conjectured
that nearly all of them had departed before 1720. At the
close of the Indian War in 1713, the remaining Tusca-
roras left the State and went to New York except the
friendly Indians under "King Blunt," who were given
lands in what is now Bertie County. It is thought that
the last of the tribe in Halifax County left a few years
later and joined their brethren in New York, where they
united with the Iroquois, making the sixth nation of that
powerful confederacy. Halifax County was thus clear
of Indians at the time the white settlers began to come.
An incident is related of those early times that shows
some of the traits of the red men of that day. While the
Tuscaroras were occupying the "Indian Woods" in Ber-
tie County, some of them often came to Halifax. On one
of these trips, an Indian chief became desperately anxious
for a bearskin blanket that belonged to Willie Jones, a
prominent resident of Halifax. To make it known that
he wanted the blanket, the chief told Mr. Jones that he
had dreamed that the blanket was his. Indians then
thought that dreams must come true. Mr. Jones readily
made the chief a present of the blanket. Shortly after-
wards the chief came again to Halifax. Mr. Jones called
the Indian to him and said, "I dreamed last night that
you gave me a tract of land of 500 acres in the Indian
"Ah! Willie, you beat me. You may have the land, but
let's not dream any more," replied the chief.
It is not known whether or not Mr. Jones took advan-
tage of this gift.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE COUNTY.
About 1656, the first permanent settlements in what is
now North Carolina were made on the eastern side of the
Chowan river by emigrants from Virginia. By 1663, the
population had increased to such an extent that the Lords
Proprietors, to whom Charles II, , king of England, had
granted the territory of North and South Carolina, com-
missioned William Berkley, one of the Proprietors and,
at the time, governor of Virginia, to appoint a governor
for the colony of Albemarle. Berkley probably did not
exercise his authority except by advice, for from a letter
of the Proprietors to the new governor, William Drum-
mond, it is very clear that they themselves commissioned
him. In this letter of instruction to Governor Drum-
mond the country is called the county of Albemarle,
named in honor of the Duke of Albemarle, one of the Pro-
prietors, the famous George Monk, who was one of the
Parliamentary generals under Cromwell, and, after the
collapse of the commonwealth, was the chief instrument
in the restoration of Charles II. to the throne, and was
rewarded for his services by being appointed to the peer-
In 1722, on account of the increase of population west
of the Chowan river, the Colonial Assembly with the sanc-
tion of the governor and his council organized Bertie pre-
cinct, which is described in the act of the Assembly as
follows: "That that part of Albemarle County lying on
the west side of Chowan river, being part of Chowan
precinct, bounded to the northward by the line dividing
this government from Virginia, and to the southward by
Albemarle sound and Morotuck river, as far up as
Welch's Creek, and then including both sides of said river
THE EVOLUTION OF THE COUNTY 7
and the branches thereof, as far as the limits of this gov-
ernment, be, and the same is hereby declared to be erect-
ed into a precinct by the name of Bertie precinct in Al-
"Morotuck" river as given in the wording of the act
will be readily recognized as the Roanoke, the ancient In-
dian name being used instead of the modern one. Welch's
Creek is a few miles up the Roanoke from Plymouth. So
it is easily concluded that the present county of Halifax
was included in this early precinct of Bertie.
In May, 1732, Governor Burrington and his council
sitting at Edenton heard a "Petition of the south side of
Roanoke river. Fishing Creek, and places adjacent," pray-
ing to have a new precinct erected on the south side of
Roanoke river extending as far up as the mouth of Cono-
canara Creek. The petition was favorably acted on and
the precinct formed and named Edgecombe. In October
of the same year, the limits of Edgecombe precinct were
more clearly defined so far as the portion bordering the
Roanoke river was concerned. The eastern point was to
be the Rainbow Banks, which is about two miles below
the town of Hamilton, and the northern and western to
be the southern line of Virginia.
Two members of the governor's council, Nathaniel Rice
and John Baptista Ashe, protested against the formation
of new precincts by the governor and his council with-
out the concurrence of the popular branch of the Assem-
bly as being in derogation of its rights. The governor and
the other members were equally as determined as those
two for the formation of the new precinct. So two me-
morials went to the Board of Trade in London, one from
Ashe and Rice and another from the governor and his
council, each memorial setting forth the reasons for and
against the erection of the precinct, and each referring to
the other in no complimentary terms. From that time, for
about ten years, the contention was kept up as to the le-
gality of the act of the council, and Edgecombe precinct
was a name only, its representatives being denied seats in
8 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
the Assembly. Finally at the session of the Colonial As-
sembly in 1741, under the administration of Gabriel John-
ston, the act was confirmed and ratified, and the precinct
of Edgecombe was thus established and allowed two rep-
resentatives in the Assembly.
Many of the deeds recorded in Book I in the office of
the Register of Deeds at Halifax, bearing dates between
1732 and 1741, locate the lands either in Bertie or Edge-
combe precinct as the views of the draughtsman dictated.
The deeds also, whenever the county is mentioned, locate
the lands in Albemarle County, which shows that what is
now Halifax County, in 1732 was either Bertie or Edge-
combe precinct in the county of Albemarle. In 1738, an
act of the Assembly changed the precincts into counties
and so Edgecombe precinct became Edgecombe County.
In 1746, the northern portion of Edgecombe, that is the
portion north and west of the present Warren County
line, was cut off and converted into the county of Gran-
ville, which remained intact until 1764 when a portion
of it was formed into Bute County, and later in 1779 Bute
ceased to be a county and Warren and Franklin were
formed from its territory.
Soon after the formation of Edgecombe County, the
territory embraced in it was divided into two parishes
for the convenience of the Episcopal clergy and the ad-
ministration of the affairs of the established church. The
parish of St. Mary included all that portion of the county
south of Fishing Creek and Kehukee swamp. North of
Fishing Creek to the Virginia line and west to the Gran-
ville County line was called Edgecombe Parish. Upon the
formation of Halifax County a few years later, as will be
seen, the parish of Edgecombe became the county of Hali-
All of the early settlers of the northern portion of
North Carolina came from or through Virginia. The
reason for this is obvious. The coast of North Carolina
being destitute of good harbors and known to be dan-
gerous to shipping, all immigrants for the colony of Al-
bemarle landed in Virginia and came to their destina-
tion by an overland route. It is also well known that
many of the residents of the Old Dominion came to the
southern colony as soon as the way was opened. At first
the settlers clung to the shores of the sounds, the route
being across the Albemarle sound to Mackey's Ferry
about ten miles east of Plymouth, thence to Bath and
across the Pamlico to Newbern and on to Wilmington.
At first all the territory in the colony of North Caro-
lina was divided into two counties, Albemarle and
Clarendon, the former being all the country around the
Albemarle and Pamlico sounds and along the rivers flow-
ing into them, and the latter the country on the Cape
About 1670, Albemarle was divided into the precincts
of Carteret, Berkley, and Shaftsbury, named in honor
of three of the Lords Proprietors of Carolina. Fifteen
years later, during the administration of Governor Seth
Sothel, these three were abolished, and the territory di-
vided into four precincts and given the names of Curri-
tuck, Chowan, Pasquotank, and Perquimans. When
Bertie precinct was organized in 1722, the tide of immi-
gration had flown westward across the Chowan river
and was finding places of settlement along the banks of
the Roanoke and on both the south and north sides of
10 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
The first grants mentioned were in 1720, although
one is referred to as early as 1714. These grants and
deeds based thereon were located on the "south side of
Morotuck river," which seemed to be the favorite locali-
ties for settlements, until some ten or fifteen years later
when some grants were located on Fishing Creek, show-
ing the gradual movement of population southward.
According to the records in the oflice of the Register
of Deeds at Halifax, the first grants of land in the pres-
ent limits of the county were on Roanoke river and near
the mouths of Kehukee and Quanky creeks. The earliest
that are on record were to William Jones on April 5,
1720, which lapsed and was regranted to William Pope,
April 1, 1723. Quite close to that one in point of time
was one to Philip Rayford, August 13, 1720, and to
George Smith about the same time. The grant to William
Pope is described as being "on the south side of Moro-
tuck river and on Tuckahoe marsh ;" those to Philip Ray-
ford and George Smith on Conoconara Swamp,
There were many other grants located on Conoconara
Swamp, Quanky Creek, Elk Marsh, Fishing Creek, In-
dian Creek, and Looking Glass Creek between 1720 and
1730 by Robert Long, Cornelius Pierce, Thomas Smith,
John and Jacob Pope, Michael Aaron, and others. About
ten years later grants by Edward Jones, Robert Hill,
Joseph Hale, Henry Dawson, John Dawson, John Cotton,
Joseph J. Alston, Marmaduke Norfleet, and others were
located in the same section.
Other grants were about the same time, or a little la-
ter, made to the following, whose names are given be-
cause of the interest that may attach to some of them on
account of the fact that their descendants are still living
in the county: James Allen, Thomas Bradford, Thomas
Bryant, James Bradley, Aaron Drake, William Drake,
John Edwards, Charles Evans, John Green, Davie Hop-
per, James Hale, James Joyner, Thomas Jenkins, Na-
than Joyner, Benjamin Johnson. James Moore, Thomas
Matthews, Ephraim Owen, Edward Powers, John Rog-
EARLY SETTLEMENTS 11
ers, Edward Simmons, John Sojourner, James Saunders,
Thomas Turner, James_Thompson, Robert Wood, Wil-
liam Whitehead, Robert Warren, and others.
In 1722, a colony of Scotch Highlanders came across the
Roanoke from Virginia and settled in a great bend in
the river, and gave their settlement the name of Scotland
Neck. The exact locality is not known, but it was some-
where in that large belt of fertile lands between the
Caledonia farms and Palmyra. It is also unknown as
to how many families were in this colony ; but they were
an industrious set of people, had built comfortable
homes, and had raised several good crops of corn, to-
bacco, and wheat, when a tremendous freshet in the riv-
er swept away everything they had accumulated. Be-
coming discouraged, they abandoned the settlement and
went to the Cape Fear country.
From 1732 to 1741, the period of contest over the
validity of the establishment of Edgecombe precinct,
there was probably no county seat, the county courts be-
ing held in private homes. There is a deed on record
proved at a court held for Edgecombe precinct at the
home of Robert Long on Elk Marsh, August 15, 1732.
It is reasonably clear that as early as 1732, people
were living in all parts of what is now Halifax County.
Immense grants of land had been located on Roanoke
River north of Kehukee Creek as far north as the point
where the old town of Gaston was situated. South and
west of the Roanoke the tide of immigration had gone
as far as the present town of Enfield and the neighbor-
hood of Aurelian Springs. The early settlers were es-
sentially an agricultural class and were looking for
farming and grazing lands. They found them on the
Roanoke near Looking Glass Run, Quanky Creek, Cono-
conara Swamp, Marsh Swamp, Chockayotte and Deep
Creeks. Large farms were soon cleared in those sections
and elegant country homes for those early times built.
Enfield, which at the time was known as Huckleberry
Swamp, was selected about 1745 as the county seat of
12 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
Edgecombe County. By act of 1741, confirming the
establishment of Edgecombe precinct in 1732, which had
been changed from precinct to county in 1738, the Com-
missioners were empowered to levy a poll tax, not to ex-
ceed five shillings, for the purpose of erecting a court
house. This was acted upon at an early date, and the
building located at Huckleberry Swamp, which took the
name of Enfield, probably in honor of old Enfield in
England. This is the first mention of a town in the coun-
ty. Enfield is, therefore, the oldest town in the present
limits of Halifax County.
Soon after that event, by act of 1746, the judicial dis-
trict of Edgecombe, Northampton, and Granville was
formed, and Enfield was made the place of meeting of
the new court. This distinction for Enfield of being the
seat of the judicial district continued until about 1758.
The writs and subpoenas were all issued from Newbern,
at the time the capital of North Carolina, but the courts
were held at Enfield.
In 1742, a settlement was made on Kehukee Creek
which is of considerable note. This was a party of im-
migrants from Berkley, Va., led by William Sojourner.
After establishing themselves in their new homes, they
built Kehukee Baptist church, probably the oldest
church of that denomination in eastern North Carolina.
Some years later several Methodist churches were estab-
lished on Fishing Creek. Episcopal churches had been
built some years before in several sections of Edgecombe
County. It is well authenticated that religion and sobri-
ety characterized the early inhabitants of this section of
An attendant upon a yearly meeting of one of the
churches on Fishing Creek in 1755 has the following to
say about the inhabitants of Edgecombe County: "The
inhabitants were principally from Virginia and some
from Pennsylvania and Jersey. They are thrifty and
intelligent." He further says that the prevalent popu-
lation of the territory was English, the only settlement
EARLY SETTLEMENTS 13
of another nationality being the one at Scotland Neck,
The chief agricultural products of the times were rice,
Indian corn, cotton in limited quantities, indigo, and to-
bacco. Naval stores, lumber, staves, pork, beef, hides,
deerskins, furs, beeswax, and honey also formed a large
part of the material wealth of the people. Tobacco,
staves, and lumber were exported in considerable quan-
tities as early as 1746.
FORMATION OP THE COUNTY.
As the population increased, it soon became apparent
that the sections north and south of Fishing Creek in
Edgecombe County were rivals of each other. It is prob-
able that the northern part of the county, that is, what
is now included in Halifax, was the more populous, be-
cause it was the first settled. From a report given to
the British Board of Trade, the population of Edgecombe
County in 1758 was: whites, over 16, 1674: blacks, over
12, 1091, making a total of 2765. Allowing for children
below the ages given in the enumeration, the total popu-
lation of Edgecombe County in 1758 was about 5000. As
Edgecombe Parish, or the section north of Fishing
Creek, was the more populous, it is probable that Hali-
fax County as organized in that year had nearly 3000
people living in its borders.
In the latter part of the year 1757, Governor Arthur
Dobbs and his council, sitting at Newbern, heard the pe-
tition of the residents of the parish of Edgecombe for
the formation of a new county to be composed of all the
territory of Edgecombe County north of Fishing Creek
and Rainbow Banks on the Roanoke river. Early in the
next year, the petition was granted and confirmed by the
Colonial Assembly. A committee from the petitioners
and the Assembly called upon Governor Dobbs and asked
him to suggest a name for the new county and the place
for the county seat. The governor immediately offered
the name of Halifax, in honor of Charles Montague, Earl
of Halifax, who was at that time President of the British
Board of Trade, which had control of the commercial and
economic affairs of the colonies, and Enfield was desig-
nated as the county seat. The name suggested was read-
FORMATION OF THE COUNTY 15
ily accepted, but the acceptance of Enfield as the capital
was delayed because it was thought that the location of
the county town should be more thoroughly considered.
Later, Enfield was rejected because it was too far from
the center of the new county, and the village of Halifax
was chosen instead. Thus the county of Halifax came
into existence without much formality, the parish of
Edgecombe becoming Halifax and the parish of St.
Halifax, which had thus drawn the prize of having
been selected as the county seat, was an insignificant
village. It is well authenticated that there were several
families living on Quanky Creek near where it empties
into the Roanoke as early as 1741. It was not until 1757,
however, that this thrifty collection of homes on the
Roanoke began to be thought of as a town. In that year,
by act of the Colonial Assembly, one hundred acres of
land were purchased from James Leslie at the price of
one hundred and fifty pounds and vested in a board of
trustees to sell to expected residents in town lots, the
proceeds of the sale to go toward paying Leslie for the
land, to build a bridge over Quanky Creek, and the sur-
plus to go for town improvements. Four acres were to
be reserved for municipal buildings. The town became
of some importance in 1758, and when it was selected as
the county seat, it immediately assumed a degree of
thrift, that it maintained for a long number of years.
Enfield having lost out in the contest for the county
seat of Halifax, and losing also, on account of geographi-
cal reasons, the court house of Edgecombe, was destined
further to lose the distinction of being the seat of the
district court of Edgecombe, Northampton, and Gran-
ville. As soon as the county of Halifax was organized,
the following year the district court was abolished, and
the court house was purchased from Edgecombe County
and moved to Halifax, or such portions of the building
as could be used in putting up the new structure.
The county, as established, embraced at first not only
16 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
Roanoke. It was a splendid domain fo? the making nf «
Srti^;^^;t::r*-«- -"- '°- - ' "--
Thus established, Halifax enterpH iha fow,,-i ^^
officers was installed. ^ ^ ^*
ivJn I'i^ C^^o"Jal Assembly, which met in Newbern in
The'se ^n at'^n.rf' It-T"^'"' ^^"* StlpVe'n "d w:y:
county in the-iegl^a^tive^h^ „*?lhf ttinS'tW hav!
a distinction that others did not attain ' ^ ''^^
Alexander McCulloch came to this 'county from Scot
^nd and located a few miles westward of the t^w„ of
Bet rcou^ra'nd"' '"' "^"^"'^^ "' benjamin*™ ol
s/n^e'd the""c':unry''srral ^ime? tthrS>r ■'IV'""'-
bly and was afteLards for™eve ^years a mLC' of
r r ^ti^\:- rofihtirif :/ sx r£
have rendered the name honorable ''^^^"^^«^hs that
Blake Baker, the other represenative of the countv in
whotT'^^^"^ ^^ l^^^' ^^« ^he father of Blake Baker
Tud^e nf &?w''*^^?^-^^^ '' the State and a
.luage. He himself was a lawyer and served on the judi-
FORMATION OF THE COUNTY 17
ciary committee of the Assembly. It is interesting to
know that the family of Bakers that came to Halifax
County from Virginia were distinguished for several
generations, and the heads of the family for four suc-
cessive generations were named Blake. The first Blake
Baker came to the county from South Quay, Va. The
second Blake, son of the first, was trained as a cabinet
maker, but studied law and became prominent as a rep-
resentative in the Colonial Assembly from Halifax
County. Of Blake the third, the attorney-general and
judge, it is said that he was bred for the law and by
dint of hard labor, for he was not brilliant, he came to
be considered one of the ablest lawyers of his day. He
left a son also named Blake.
Joseph Montford, the first Clerk of the Court, was dis-
tinguished as a mason and citizen. A biography of him
is given in Part II., "Builders of the County."
Stephen Dewey, the representative from the town of
Halifax, was a lawyer and a man of considerable ability.
He was a man of strong character. When he was elect-
ed, the town had just been made a borough and there
was some delay in its official recognition. Governor
Dobbs had failed to issue a writ for an election. The
election, however, was held and Dewey elected. As soon
as the question was raised as to the legality of the elec-
tion, Dewey promptly declined the office. The governor
was then appealed to for the necessary writ and another
election held, and Dewey was again elected. He served
FORERUNNERS OF THE REGULATOR MOVEMENT.
In 1759, an incident occurred in Halifax County, which
showed the resentment of the people of this section of
North Carolina toward a system which was in operation
at the time in the province. The spirit shown in that
incident was the same as that which was exhibited some
fifteen years later when North Carolina in convention at
Halifax declared for the absolute independence of the
For many years previous to the formation of Halifax
County, there had been much dissatisfaction in North
Carolina on account of the exactions of the quit-rent col-
lectors. The lands were not held in fee simple by the
owners, but in addition to paying the regular price for
the land they had to pay to the Lords Proprietors and
later to the king an annual rental per acre. This was
to be perpetual, for while a man might buy his land and
get a deed for it, he was under obligation to the British
Government to pay a yearly tax. There was no chance
to escape this even though the settlers had paid the price
asked for the land. The liberty loving North Carolinians
did not like this system of feudalism, and often showed
When the Proprietors sold their claims to the crown
in 1729, Lord Granville reserved his right and refused
to sell. His share, one-eighth of the whole, was allotted
to him wholly in North Carolina. His line ran through
the old town of Bath and the present town of Snow Hill
and westward to the Mississippi river, taking in a large
slice of the northern part of the province. Halifax
County fell to the share of Lord Granville.
THE REGULATOR MOVEMENT 19
In the territory belonging to the king, the quit-rents
were paid into the treasury of the province and helped
to pay the expenses of the government. In Granville's
district, however, the sums collected went into the cof-
fers of his lordship, and hence were an additional cause
Francis Corbin and Thomas Bodley were the agents of
Lord Granville for the collection of his rents, and had
made themselves odious by extortions and other evil
practices. Charges against them were being investigat-
ed by a committee of the Colonial Assembly, but the
committee was slow in their deliberations and the As-
sembly adjourned without action. Irritated by this
seeming indifference, the people in the district concern-
ed became aroused and threatened to take action them-
selves upon the guilty agents. Matters hastened to a
crisis in Halifax and Edgecombe counties.
In January, 1759, the feeling against Corbin and Bod-
ley became violently demonstrative ; and on January 24 a
body of well mounted horsemen from Halifax and Edge-
combe rode all the way to Edenton, the home of Corbin
and Bodley, and seized the two agents in the night time
and conveyed them to Enfield, where they were com-
pelled to give bond for their appearance at the spring
term of court. Having given bond and promising to dis-
gorge all illegal fees and taxes collected, they were re-
Shortly afterward, Corbin and Bodley instituted
suit against their abductors, and a number of them were
put in jail at Enfield. Friends and sympathizers of
the imprisoned men went to the jail one night and re-
leased them. Not content with emptying the jail, the
rioters warned the agents that they had better drop the
suits or worse results would follow. Accordingly the
suits were dropped and Corbin and Bodley paid the cost.
Some months later, Corbin, who had been a member of
the council, was dismissed by Governor Dobbs and re-
moved from the agency by Lord Granville. This in a
20 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
measure quieted the restlessness in the colony, and es-
pecially in Halifax.
A singular circumstance is that the Colonial Assem-
bly was severe upon the rioters, while the governor was
more favorable to them. Governor Dobbs intimated in
some of his correspondence that his opponents in the
Assembly found it to their interests to make up with
Corbin, against whom the greatest charge was laid, and
change sides, and there may have been some truth in
what he said. Dobbs was a hot-headed Irishman who
was in continual warfare with the Assembly throughout
his administration, and the solution of the reason that
the Assembly took sides against the rioters is that
Dobbs was for them.
Colonel Saunders, in the Prefatory Notes to the Col-
onial Records, considers these rioters as the forerunners
of the Regulators, who rose against the royal govern-
ment of the province a few years later.
MUTTERINGS OF THE COMING STORM.
For some years after the formation of the county,
there is little to record except the mention of the rota-
tion of the county officers and members of the Colonial
Assembly. Joseph Montford continued to serve as clerk
of the court until his death in 1776. He was also a rep-
resentative in the Assembly for several terms, thus
serving in a double capacity for a few years.
Until the adoption of the Constitution in 1776, the
Colonial Assembly consisted of an upper house known
as his Majesty's Council, composed of the Governor and
a number of men appointed by the king, and the lower
house made up of delegates elected by the people. The
history of the different assemblies was one of continued
strife between the governor and the lower house. To
the lower house, Halifax County, as well as other coun-
ties of the State, sent its representatives. The follow-
ing is a list of the representatives sent by the county and
the town of Halifax for the sixteen years before the
Declaration of Independence in 1776:
For the Borough of Halifax.
Stephen Dewey 1760-61
Alexander Elmsley 1762-63
Abner Nash 1764-65
Joseph Montford 1766-75
For the County.
Blake Baker and Alexander McCulloch 1760-6T
Blake Baker and Joseph Montford 1762-65
John Bradford and William Branch 1766-68
Blake Baker and Alexander McCulloch 1760-61
Abner Nash and William Alston 1770-71
Benjamin McCulloch and John Alston 1772-74
Nicholas Long and Benjamin McCulloch 1775
22 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
Abner Nash, who represented the town and county at
different times, afterwards became governor of the
State. Halifax is not generally credited with having
been the home of this Revolutionary governor, but it is
quite clear that he lived in the town of Halifax for about
twelve years before removing to Jones County. He own-
ed a farm on Roanoke river and considerable real es-
tate elsewhere in the county. While living in Halifax,
he married the widow of the late Governor Dobbs, who
was before her marriage with the governor, Miss Justina
Davis. She died in 1771, before Governor Nash left the
county, and is buried in the old churchyard at Halifax.
Nash became Governor in 1780, but declined to serve
longer than one year.
William Tryon was sent from England in October,
1764, to act as deputy governor with Governor Dobbs.
Tryon was a dashing soldier and soon became popular
with the people of the province. Governor Dobbs died
in April, 1765, and Tryon succeeded to the governorship.
Almost immediately upon his accession. Governor Tryon
found himself in the midst of a nation-wide excitement
about the passage of the Stamp Act. Wilmington, Eden-
ton, and Newbern had their periods of excitement and
clashes with the king's officers over the sale of the
stamps. There were riots and disturbances in various
parts of the province. Halifax County, being far re-
moved from the ports where the stamps were to be land-
ed for sale, was intensely interested, but made no par-
ticular demonstration. Governor Tryon found out the
temper of North Carolina people when he asked John
Ashe whether the people would continue their resistance
to the Stamp Act duty and received as reply that 'Tt
will be resisted to blood and death." He, therefore, ad-
vised the repeal of the act, and it was done the next
In 1768, the movement of the Regulators in Orange
County produced considerable excitement and some sym-
pathy in Halifax. To show a kindred feeling with the
MUTTERINGS OF THE COMING STORM 23
Regulators, in their struggle against extortions and ille-
gal taxes, the inhabitants of Halifax County petitioned
the Governor and the Colonial Assembly that year to
lighten the burdens under which they were living and to
pass laws regulating the payment of fees for the is-
suance of all legal papers, the collection of quit-rents,
and the payment of taxes. The petition was presented
by William Branch, one of the representatives for that
year, and shows some of the hardships that the people of
that time endured. No action, however, was taken upon
When Governor Tryon called upon the counties of
the Province, in 1771, to furnish troops to march against
the Regulators, Halifax County refused to furnish any
men to fight their comrades and friends in Orange and
Alamance. It is to the credit of the county that it sent
no soldiers to aid the royal governor in his merciless
warfare upon the inhabitants of that section of North
Carolina. With his sympathizers from other counties,
he marched against the Regulators and defeated them
at the Battle of Alamance.
At a meeting of freeholders in the town of Halifax,
August 22, 1774, John Webb was chosen moderator, and
the following set of resolutions was unanimously adopt-
1. We declare our loyalty to King George III.
2. That the proposed alteration in the administration
of the criminal law in certain cases in Massachu-
setts would be unconstitutional and oppressive, and
deprive the accused of the privilege of being tried
by a jury of his peers, and their indigent circum-
stances would prevent them from having their wit-
nesses transported to England.
3. That the Boston Port Bill was an illegal exercise of
arbitrary power and an encroachment upon private
4. That the bill for changing the constitution of
Massachusetts, now founded on charter, would be
24 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
injurious to the liberties of that province and of
America in general.
5. That the Americans can only be legally taxed by
those who represent them, and that it would be im-
practicable to send representatives across the sea.
6. That principles of honor, justice, and gratitude, as
well as interest, should direct them on that occasion.
7. That all luxury and extravagance should be dis-
couraged in order that debts in England might be
discharged; and that sheep husbandry and manu-
facture of wool be encouraged, and that every per-
son should apply himself with assiduity to his occu-
pation in life.
8. That exports to England be continued until all
debts were paid.
9. That the trade with the British West Indies be
10. That after the twentieth day of September next we
import no article, directly or indirectly, from Great
Britain, nor purchase from those who do import,
until the duty on tea be taken off, except certain
articles absolutely necessary.
11. That the East India Company has insulted Ameri-
cans in sending over tea contrary to the wishes of
the Americans; and that we will use no more tea
until the tax is taken off.
12. That unanimity and concord should be encouraged.
13. That, as Joseph Montford on account of indisposi-
tion cannot attend the meeting of the Assembly at
Newbern, John Geddy be appointed in his place.
14. That the courts of law continue to exercise their
15. That a copy of these resolves be inserted in the
From the tone of these resolutions it will be seen that
the spirit of opposition to Great Britain was becoming
defiant. Notwithstanding the fact that they disclaim
any intention of being disloyal to the British Govern-
ment, they boldly assert that certain acts of the British
ministry were arbitrary and tyrannical and that a peo-
<\i i ■
MUTTERINGS OF THE COMING STORM 25
pie can be legally taxed only by a body in which they are
represented. It is noteworthy that all extravagance and
luxury was discouraged in order that debts in England
might be paid. These sturdy yoemen of Halifax saw
that a separation from England was coming, but they
wanted, when it did come, to be free of debt to their
enemy. Here was a tea party also when they declared
solemnly that they would use no more tea nor import any
article from Great Britain until the tea tax had been re-
This determined spirit of the people of Halifax was
seen in all parts of the province, and when the first Pro-
vincial Congress met in Newbern on the 25th of August,
1774, there was strong evidence that North Carolina was
taking a long stride toward independence. In that Con-
gress, Halifax County was represented by Nicholas Long
and Willie (Wiley) Jones, and the town of Halifax by
John Geddy. The Congress took wise precaution to
guard the safety of the province by the appointment of
committees of safety for the various counties. The com-
mittee for Halifax was as follows : Willie Jones, Nicholas
Long, John Bradford, James Hogan, Benjamin McCul-
loch, Joseph John Williams, William Alston, Egbert Hay-
wood, David Sumner, Samuel Weldon, and Thomas
LEADING UP TO THE REVOLUTION.
December 21, 1774, the Committee of Safety met in
Halifax and elected Willie Jones chairman, and trans-
acted some business of special note. While in session, it
was reported to the committee that Andrew Miller, a
merchant in the town of Halifax, had refused to sign the
resolutions that were passed by the freeholders, known
as the Resolutions of the Association. A sub-committee
was appointed to summon him before the full committee.
Miller came and gave as his reason for not signing the
resolutions that he had in his hands certain goods be-
longing to persons in England and that he could not ship
these goods to England before the time given for the
resolutions to go into effect. He stated that he did not
think it just to sign as his creditors in England had no
means to influence the repeal of the objectionable laws.
His explanation was not satisfactory to the Committee,
and by vote it was decided that a general boycott be
instituted against Miller and whatever partner or part-
ners he might have. This was perhaps the first instance
of the kind in the State. Governor Martin refers to these
resolutions of boycott against Miller in a letter to Lord
Dartmouth. It is evident that these Halifax patriots
were determined that their resentment to the mother
country for the unjust treatment of the American col-
onies should be forcible and unanimous.
A few words of explanation of the conduct of Andrew
Miller in thus defying his fellow citizens may be neces-
sary. He was a Scotchman by birth and a man of much
ability and good standing in his community. Several
of his letters are given in full in the Colonial Records,
in one of which he speaks of expecting Governor Mar-
LEADING UP TO THE REVOLUTION 27
tin to spend ten days with him. The county records
show that he was one of the executors of the will of
James Milner, a prominent attorney of Halifax. As will
be supposed, Miller became a Tory and soon afterwards
fled from Halifax. His property was confiscated in 1779,
and he was a refugee at Charleston at the close of the
war. It is not known where he went from there when
that city fell into the hands of the American army under
General Greene at the close of the Revolution.
James Milner, mentioned in connection with the Tory,
Andrew Miller, was a leading lawyer of the Halifax bar
during the period just before the outbreak of the war.
He practiced in the courts of the province even as far
away as Hillsboro. He died before the beginning of the
Revolution, and the records show that he left consider-
able property. Several of his letters appear in the Co-
When the second Provincial Congress met in Newbem,
April 3, 1775, Halifax County was represented by Willie
Jones, Benjamin McCulloch, and Nicholas Long, and the
town of Halifax by Joseph Montford and John Webb.
Little was done at this session and an adjournment was
taken to Hillsboro in August the same year.
At this session, which met August 21, Halifax County
was represented by Nicholas Long, James Hogan, David
Sumner, John Webb, and John Geddy. The town of
Halifax was represented by Willie Jones and Francis
Nash, who was living at the time in Hillsboro. One of
the important things done by this Congress was the di-
vision of the Province into five military districts and
the appointment of a colonel for each district. The Revo-
lution had actually begun ; the Battle of Lexington had
been fought; the Mecklenburg Declaration of Indepen-
dence had been signed; Washington had begun the siege
of Boston; excitement was rife throughout North
The Congress also authorized the enrollment of five
hundred minute men in each district. Nicholas Long
28 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
was chosen colonel of the Halifax department, which was
composed of the counties of Halifax, Edgecombe, North-
ampton, and Granville. Henry Irwin was chosen lieuten-
ant-colonel and Jethro Sumner, major. For the county
of Halifax, the following were chosen officers of the
minute men that were to be raised: John Bradford.
Colonel; William Alston, Lieutenant-Colonel; David
Sumner, First Major; Egbert Haywood, Second Major.
Congress allotted to the county the enrollment of three
companies of the militia that had been authorized.
The Hillsboro Congress took a step toward State sove-
reignty by the organization of a provincial government
called the Provincial Council, which was to exercise the
executive functions that had been wielded by the royal
governor, who was now a refugee on a British gunboat at
the mouth of the Cape Fear river. Cornelius Harnett,
of Wilmington, was the chairman of this council and was
thus the chief executive officer of the province. Halifax
County was honored in having as a member of this Pro-
vincial Council Willie Jones, who was among the first
elected by the Congress. To act on the Committee of
Safety of Halifax district, James Leslie, John Bradford,
David Sumner, and John Webb were appointed from
During these troublesome times, Halifax County was
specially free from anything like dominating Tory in-
fluence. Only a few loyalists were found in the county,
and these were kept under such surveillance that they
exerted very little assistance to those who were trying
to uphold the power of the king in North Carolina.
Andrew Miller, as has been related, was a Tory, and
John Hamilton, another merchant of Halifax, who, after
his flight from Halifax in 1776, rose to high rank in the
British army. Besides these two, there were a few
others, who were obnoxious. All of them were watched
by the patriots and arrested and brought before the Com-
mittee of Safety for punishment, if they made any move
in behalf of the king.
LEADING UP TO THE REVOLUTION 29
At a session of the Provincial Council, held at Smith-
field, December 18, 1775, John Branch, sheriff of Halifax
County, brought before that body Walter Lamb and
George Massenbird, charged with certain crimes, arid
prayed punishment upon them as Tories. Lamb was
remanded for trial at the next meeting of the Committee
of Safety of Halifax County; but Massenbird seems to
have experienced a change of heart and became penitent,
under pressure, took the oath of allegiance to the Pro-
vincial Council, and was released. It is not known why
they were taken to Smithfield, but the presumption is
that they had taken an appeal from the decision of the
HALIFAX COUNTY AND NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE.
For Halifax County, North Carolina, and all America,
the year 1776 was momentous. The preceding year had
come to a close with the Revolution just commencing.
In the beginning, the resistance to British authority was
only rebellion. Except the Mecklenburg Declaration of
May 20, 1775, there had been no intimation anywhere in
America of a desire to separate from the mother country.
All the colonies declared, in effect, that they were fight-
ing for their rights as Englishmen and not to establish
an independent nation. So firmly fixed in the minds of
the people was the idea of loyalty to the British crown
that, when the Mecklenburg Declaration was passed and
Captain Jack despatched with a copy to the Congress at
Philadelphia, he was coldly received even by the North
Carolina delegation and the copy of the Declaration
As time, however, passed and the struggle with Great
Britain became more and more desperate, a change took
place in the feelings of Americans toward England. Be-
fore even a year had passed, people all over the colonies
began to think that the war, which had begun as a rebel-
lion was fast becoming a revolution. In no colony was
the growing spirit of independence more pronounced
than in North Carolina, and in no county was it more
alive than in Halifax.
Ominously did the year 1776 open in North Carolina.
Everybody felt that the war now under way was to be
long and fierce. Early in January, the British Com-
mander-in-Chief, whose headquarters were in Boston,
sent his agents to various points in North Carolina to
arouse the Tories and organize them for service against
NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE 31
the patriots. In the central and western part of the
province, there was a bitter struggle for several months
between the two factions; but the Tories were finally
defeated and forced to submit or flee the country.
In Cumberland County, where the Highland Scotch had
settled, more than two thousand Tories assembled at
Cross Creek and began their march upon Wilmington
to meet a British army of invasion that was to make a
landing on the Cape Fear. Before reaching Wilming-
ton, however, they were totally defeated by the patriots,
on February 27, and dispersed. The leaders of the Tories
in this Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge, Colonels Donald
and Allan McDonald, the latter being the husband of the
famous Flora McDonald, were captured and brought to
Halifax and confined in the jail there. Colonel Nicholas
Long, in command of the militia of Halifax district, ap-
prehended other Tories that were trying to escape cap-
ture after the battle and were passing through Halifax
and confined them in jail. The names of forty-six of
these refugee Tories are given in the reports of these
captures besides others whose names are not given. They
were detained in jail in Halifax until paroled some months
After the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge, sentiment
in North Carolina for independence rapidly crystallized.
Although a British army of invasion and twenty-
seven enemy gunboats were on the Cape Fear, the peo-
ple of the province set their faces steadfastly toward a
separation from England, In Halifax County, the spirit
of revolution was unchecked.
So when the Provincial Congress met in Halifax
April 4, 1776, it found a sympathetic people to give en-
couragement to its deliberations. Samuel Johnston, of
Edenton, was elected president and James Green, Jr.,
secretary. Halifax County was represented by John
Bradford, James Hogan, David Sumner, Joseph John
Williams, and Willis Alston. Willie Jones was elected
to represent the town of Halifax, but, having been ap-
32 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
pointed by the Continental Congress superintendent of
Indian affairs for the southern department and being
absent on account of the duties of that office, John Webb
was chosen in his stead.
After matters of a minor nature were disposed of by
the Congress, the discussion of national affairs was en-
tered upon. The sentiment for independence was well
nigh unanimous, and it was enthusiastically decided that
the Congress should go on record in some expression re-
garding it. Accordingly, a committee was appointed to
draft suitable resolutions. This committee, consisting of
Cornelius Harnett, Thomas Burke, Allen Jones, Thomas
Jones, Abner Nash, 'Diomas Person, and M. Kinchin,
made their report on April 12. Cornelius Harnett was
the chairman of the committee and made the report as
"It appears to your committee that, pursuant to the
plan concerted by the British ministry for subjugating
America, the king and parliament of Great Britain have
usurped a power over the persons and properties of the
people, unlimited and uncontrolled, and, disregarding
their humble petitions for peace, liberty, and safety,
have made divers legislative acts denouncing war, fam-
ine, and every species of calamity against the continent
in general. The British have been, and still are, daily
employed in destroying people and committing the most
horrid devastations on the country. The governors in
different colonies have declared protection to slaves,
who imbrue their hands in the blood of their masters.
The ships belonging to America are declared prizes of
war, and many of them have been violently seized and
confiscated. In consequence of all which, multitudes of
people have been destroyed, or from easy circumstances
reduced to the most lamentable distress.
"And whereas, the moderation hitherto manifested by
the United Colonies, and their sincere desire to be recon-
ciled to the mother country on constitutional principles
have procured no mitigation of the aforesaid wrongs and
NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE 33
usurpations, and no hope remains of obtaining redress
by those means alone which have been hitherto tried,
your committee are of the opinion that the House should
enter into the following resolve, to wit :
"Resolved, that the delegates from this colony, in the
Continental Congress, be empowered to concur with the
delegates of the other colonies in declaring Independence
and forming foreign alliances, reserving to this colony
the sole and exclusive right of forming a constitution
and laws for this colony, and of appointing delegates
from time to time (under the direction of a general rep-
resentation thereof) to meet the delegates of the other
colonies for such purposes as shall be hereafter pointed
This resolution, the first of the kind in all America, was
adopted unanimously on the twelfth of April, antedat-
ing the Virginia resolves of the same nature a little more
than a month. As is well known, the Continental Con-
gress acted upon this resolution of North Carolina, which
was well seconded by Virginia by a like resolve on May
15, and a national Declaration of Independence was
passed July 4, 1776.
April 14, the Congress appointed a committee, of
which John Bradford was a member, to prepare a tem-
porary civil constitution for the purpose of changing
from a provincial to a State government. The word
"temporary" was used in the naming of the commit-
tee probably for the reason that the decisive step for in-
dependence had not yet been made. It is not known how
far the committee proceeded in their deliberations, but
no constitution was adopted at this session.
Two men were appointed, by resolution, from each
county, whose duty should be to receive, purchase, and
procure firearms for the use of the troops. Egbert Hay-
wood and David Crawley were appointed from Halifax
County. The militia of the province was reorganized
with brigadier-generals in command of the districts.
Allen Jones, who lived at Mount Gallant in Northamp-
34 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
ton County, was appointed to command the troops of
Halifax district. The following field officers for Halifax
County were appointed: Willis Alston, Colonel; David
Sumner, Lieutenant-Colonel; James Hogan, First Ma-
jor; Samuel Weldon, Second Major.
Before adjournment, the Congress provided for the
erection in the county of a powder mill, and appointed
Willie Jones, Benjamin McCulloch, and Josiah Sumner to
have control of it.
At this Congress, one of the most important ever held
in the province, a great deal of business was transacted,
that relating to Halifax County, owing to its peculiar in-
terest, is given in full, —
It was resolved that a declaration be published that the
Congress was compelled to remove the prisoners, cap-
tured in the late campaign, into other provinces on ac-
count of the public safety. This action relieved the
pressure in the Halifax jail, where there had been incar-
cerated a large number of Scotch Tories.
A committee was appointed to look into the matter of
the seizure at Newbern of a vessel belonging to John
Hamilton, a Tory merchant of Halifax.
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, and John Penn were
appointed delegates to the general Congress to be held in
John Webb was added to the committee for the coun-
ty for procuring arms. Colonel Nicholas Long was di-
rected to collect all the arms that may have been taken
from Tories and hold them ready to supply recruits for
the minute men.
Colonel Long was requested to proceed to the Virginia
line, with a detachment of troops, and escort General
Charles Lee, an oflficer of the Continental army, to Hali-
fax. He was passing through to inspect the troops in
this State and in South Carolina and Georgia.
It was ordered that 1500 minute men be enrolled in
the districts of Edenton, Newbern, Halifax, and Wil-
mington, and proceed to Wilmington for the defense of
NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE 35
the State. Halifax district was to furnish seven com-
panies; from Halifax 100 men, Edgecomb 100, Bute
100, and Northampton 75.
All the militia of the colony was divided into six bri-
gades, one brigade in each district, to be commanded
by a brigadier-general. All males between the ages of
16 and 60 were declared subject to military duty. Each
county was to be organized into a regiment, which was
to be subdivided into companies of not less than fifty
Bills of credit were issued to the value of $1,000,000
for the purpose of defraying all expenses of armaments,
bounties, and other contingencies that should occur dur-
ing the recess of Congress. It was resolved that "Any
person or persons, who should attempt to depreciate
said bills of credit by refusing to take the same in pay-
ment of any debt or contract, or by speaking or writing
with the intention to lessen their credit and currency,
shall be considered as inimical to America."
The Provincial Council and the Committees of Safety
were dissolved, and, in their stead, was substituted a
Council of Safety to consist of one man to represent the
Congress and two from each of the six districts, which
should serve until the next meeting of the Congress.
Willie Jones was chosen to represent the Congress and
Thomas Eaton and Joseph John Williams to represent
After a session of a month and ten days, the Congress
adjourned on May 14 to meet again in Halifax Novem-
ber 10, 1776, unless sooner called together by the Coun-
cil of Safety.
NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE PROCLAIMED IN HALIFAX.
During the incipient stages of the Revolution, the
town of Halifax was the scene of many stirring events.
After the adjournment of the Provincial Congress, the
Provincial Council of Safety, of which Willie Jones was
a distinguished member, was in session in Halifax for
more than a month during the summer of 1776. While
in session on July 22, news of the passage of the Declara-
tion of Independence at Philadelphia was received. The
Council immediately passed the following resolution:
"Resolved, that the committees of the respective
counties and towns in this State, on receiving the
Declaration of Independence, do cause the same to be
proclaimed in the most public manner, in order that the
good people of this colony may be fully informed there-
While in session, July 25, the Council proceeded to
change the test oath so as to make it conform to the
character of the State as free and independent. By
resolution, the preamble to the oath was made to say
that the "Colonies are now free and independent states,
and all allegiance to the British Crown is now forever
at an end." On the 27th of the same month, the Coun-
cil set apart by resolution, in conjunction with the Com-
mittee of Safety of Halifax County, Thursday, August
1st, as a day for proclaiming the Declaration at the court
house in Halifax.
Accordingly, .on that eventful day, a great concourse
of people from all parts of the county met to witness the
interesting ceremonies. The Provincial troops, that
were in Halifax at the time, and the militia compa-
nies were all drawn up in martial array to give interest
INDEPENDENCE PROCLAIMED IN HALIFAX 37
to the occasion. At midday, Cornelius Harnett ascended
a rostrum which had been erected in front of the court
house, and even as he opened the scroll, upon which were
written the memorable words of the Declaration, the en-
thusiasm of the immense crowd broke forth in one loud
swell of rejoicing. Harnett proceeded with his task in
measured tones and read the immortal document to the
mute and impassioned multitude with the solemnity of
an appeal to Heaven.
When he reached the end and read the names of the
signers, among whom were William Hooper, Joseph
Hewes, and John Penn, North Carolina's members of the
Continental Congress, a spontaneous shout went up from
hundreds of mouths, and the cannon from the fort at
Quanky and the Roanoke boomed the glorious tidings
that the Thirteen Colonies were now free and indepen-
dent States. Cornelius Harnett was lifted from the ros-
trum and carried through the streets upon the shoulders
of the enthusiastic populace. It was a great day in Hali-
Shortly before this great demonstration in Halifax,
the following officers of the two companies of Halifax
County militia had been appointed by the Council of
Safety : James N. Parsons and Henry Dawson, Captains ;
P. Cox and William Noblin, Lieutenants ; Caleb Munday
and John Champion, Ensigns. The total strength of the
two companies as reported at that time was 105.
At the same sitting of the Provincial Council of Safe-
ty at Halifax, the following singular order was made:
John Webb, of Halifax County, was allowed to export
18,000 hogsheads of staves to any of the French or Dutch
cities on giving bond that he would import the proceeds
in salt, arms, ammunition, and other warlike stores.
Other matters relating to Halifax County came up
during the session and were disposed of. An order of
special note is one appointing a committee to examine
certain lead mines said to have been discovered on Big
Fishing Creek. It is not known what was the final re-
38 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
port of this committee, but they made a partial report
some time later in which they said that lead ore was not
found in sufficient quantity to justify working.
It was ordered also that the treasurer of the State
pay Colonel Willis Alston fifty pounds to employ guards
for the town of Halifax. John Hamilton, the Tory mer-
chant, came before the Council and asked an appeal from
an order of condemnation of his vessel at Newbern
shortly before that time. This was allowed. It is of in-
terest to know that Hamilton soon found out that the
atmosphere of Halifax was not wholesome for Tories,
and he fled to the British. As he was the most influen-
tial of the Tories that joined the British army in North
Carolina, the following sketch is given of him:
"Before the outbreak of the Revolutionary war, there
lived in Halifax a prosperous and influential man by the
name of John Hamilton, who came from Scotland, his
native country, in early life. He engaged in merchan-
dising in Halifax and acquired a considerable fortune.
Being well educated, he was naturally a leader, affable
in manner and popular.
"When the war of Revolution began, Halifax County,
as a whole, was enthusiastically patriotic, and joined
heartily in the movement for independence. It was a
source of regret to the people of the county that so cap-
able a man as Hamilton refused to join in this move-
ment. His friends and neighbors urged and entreated
him to enlist on the side of the colonies, but he stead-
fastly claimed allegiance to the king. He continued his
business, however, in Halifax until toward the close of
1776, when Governor Caswell issued his proclamation,
calling upon all residents of the State to take the oath
of allegiance to North Carolina within sixty days or
move to other scenes. This proclamation caused a great
many Tories to leave the State, among whom was Ham-
ilton. He seems to have been the leader of the Tories
even at that time, for he did most of the correspondence
with Governor Caswell in securing passports for them.
INDEPENDENCE PROCLAIMED IN HALIFAX 39
He, with others, went to Jamaica; but soon afterwards
returned to the states, joined the British forces in Geor-
gia in 1778, and assisted in the capture of Savannah that
year. In the meantime, his property had been confiscat-
ed by the State government.
"Hamilton's career as a soldier in the British army
was brilliant. He entered the army as a private, but
rapidly won distinction, reaching the rank of colonel in
little more than a year's time. In one of his many bat-
tles with the patriots, he was captured by Colonel Wil-
liam Washington in 1780, but shortly afterwards ex-
changed and rejoined the British army. He was placed
in command of the Royal North Carolina regiment in
1781 and commissioned to enroll in his regiment Tories
of North and South Carolina and Virginia. He was with
Lord Cornwallis, in his campaigns in the South, and sur-
rendered with him at Yorktown.
"After the treaty of peace, he went to England and
lived there for several years. Later, he was British con-
sul at Norfolk, Va., and often during his term of office
there visited Halifax, and mingled freely with the
friends he knew there before the outbreak of the war."
THE BIRTHPLACE OF THE STATE CONSTITUTION.
While the Provincial Council of Safety was in session
at Halifax, a resolution was adopted calling upon the
people to elect, on the 15th of October, delegates to a
Congress appointed to assemble at Halifax, November
12, 1776. This Congress was not only to make laws, but
also to form a State constitution, and can, with proprie-
ty be called the First Constitutional Convention of North
Carolina. The elections were held throughout the State in
accordance with the call. The following were elected to
represent Halifax County in the Congress and Conven-
tion: John Bradford, James Hogan, Willis Alston, Sam-
uel Weldon, and Benjamin McCulloch. For the town of
Halifax, Willie Jones was elected. During the session,
James Hogan, having been elected Colonel of the seventh
regiment of continental troops, tendered his resignation
as delegate for the county, and Egbert Haywood was
elected to the vacancy.
The Convention met, as called, November 12th, and
proceeded to organize. Richard Caswell was elected
President of the body; Cornelius Harnett, Vice-Presi-
dent; James Green, Jr., Secretary; and James Glasgow,
Assistant Secretary. Willie Jones and Benjamin Mc-
Culloch were members of the committee of privileges
and elections. John Bradford was a member of the com-
mittee to settle civil accounts of the State.
This convention was a notable body. Among its mem-
bers were some of the most distinguished men of the
State. In the list of members, there are such names as
Maurice Moore, Cornelius Harnett, Archibald McLean,
Phileman Hawkins, Thomas Jones, Richard Caswell,
Thomas Person, David Caldwell, Waightstill Avery, Al-
From the painting by Oilbert Stewart
BIRTHPLACE OF STATE CONSTITUTION 41
len Jones, William Hooper, Griffith Rutherford, Joseph
Hewes, Willie Jones, Abner Nash, and many others, who
have rendered the State illustrious service in peace and
in war. With such a galaxy of heroes, the State could
well make its beginning.
Soon after assembling, the committee on Bill of Rights
and Constitution was appointed. Halifax County was
honored with two members of this committee of twenty-
eight, Willie Jones and James Hogan. The committee
was composed of the ablest men in the convention.
One of the first matters of business was the admission
of Watauga, in the district of Washington, Tenn., as a
county. This was done by motion of Willie Jones and
carried by a vote of 153 to 1. In waiting were the dele-
gates from the new county, Charles Robertson, John
Carter, and John Wade, and they were admitted and the
oath administered to them. Some days later, John Se-
vier, afterwards renowned in the history of the State
and nation, another delegate from Watauga, arrived, and
was admitted. James Hogan was appointed to admin-
ister the oaths.
John Bradford and Willie Jones were appointed to ex-
amine the accounts of Colonel Nicholas Long, rendered
at the last session of the Congress. The committee
shortly afterwards reported that the accounts were cor-
rect and that the allegations against him were ground-
less. It is unknown just what these charges against Col-
onel Long were, but the inference was that he was
charged with misappropriation of funds or extravagance-
It is certain that the committee, of which Bradford and
Jones were members, made a searching investigation
and declared that Colonel Long was blameless.
By resolution, it was ordered that a battalion of vol-
unteers be dispatched to the aid of South Carolina,
which was, at the time, threatened by an invasion of
British troops. Samuel Weldon was appointed major of
this battalion and two of the lieutenants were Josiah
Pearce and John Champion, of Halifax. Later, Jdsiah
42 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
Pearce resigned, and Albritton Jones, of Halifax was ap-
pointed to succeed him.
In the records of the meetings of this convention, sev-
eral orders were entered relative to a magazine for the
storage of ammunition for the State troops. It was
probably located in the town of Halifax at or near the
present spring of that name. From this magazine sup-
plies were distributed to the troops operating anywhere
in eastern North Carolina.
Additional regiments for the Continental line were
ordered by the Congress, and James Hogan was appoint-
ed Colonel of one of these regiments, that was raised
largely in Halifax County. The following men from the
county were appointed officers in these regiments that
were to be raised : Henry Dawson, Captain ; William Nob-
lin. First Lieutenant; Jacob Barrow, Second Lieutenant.
James Hogan was shortly afterwards assigned to the
command of the seventh regiment of Continental troops.
Henry Montford, of Halifax, asked permission to ship
staves to the West India Islands, and his request was
December 6th, Thomas Jones, of Chowan County,
Chairman of the Committee on Bill of Rights and Con-
stitution, reported that the committee was ready to
make its report. He read the report to the Convention,
which body, by motion, appointed December 18 for its
Automatically, therefore, the Constitution came up for
discussion on the eighteenth. Thomas Jones, of Chow-
an, and Willie Jones, of Halifax, are generally credited
with being the authors of the Constitution as reported to
the Convention that day. They were, therefore, ardent
champions of its adoption. Very little opposition was
developed as the document as written seemed to meet
the requirements. The paper was read paragraph by
paragraph, discussed pro and con, and adopted after
amendments and changes were made. An engrossed
copy was sent to James Davis, the State printer, at New-
BIRTHPLACE OF STATE CONSTITUTION 43
bern with directions to print and distribute a number of
copies in each county.
After the adoption of the Constitution, the Congress
went into the election of State officers to serve until the
next meeting of the General Assembly, which was,
thereafter, to elect all officers of the State government.
The following were elected: Richard Caswell, Governor;
James Glasgow, Secretary of State; and the following
Counsellors of State, — Cornelius Harnett, Thomas Per-
son, William Day, William Haywood, Edward Starkey,
Joseph Leech, Thomas Eaton.
By the same Congress, the militia of Halifax County
was reorganized with the following officers: Willis
Alston, Colonel; Samuel Weldon, Lieutenant-Colonel;
John Geddy, First Major; John Wheaton, Second Major.
Having completed the task before it of drafting a Con-
stitution for the new State and making laws and regu-
lations, needed during that time that tried men's souls,
the Congress and Constitutional Convention adjorned a
few days before Christmas, thus giving to the world a
gift, which has been a blessing to a large part of civili-
EARLY DAYS OF THE REVOLUTION.
To give anything like a connected account of the serv-
ices and activities of Halifax County soldiers during the
Revolution is impossible for the reason that the rosters
of the Continental line do not give the counties from
which the companies were enlisted. The militia of the
county was, also, embraced in the rosters of the dis-
trict of Halifax, and it is not at all clear what counties of
the district should be credited with certain troops.
Two companies from the county, those of Captains Par-
sons and Dawson, numbering 51 and 54 respectively, are
mentioned in the reports as being with General Ashe at
Wilmington in July, 1776. It is possible, therefore, to
give in only a general way the part which Halifax took
in winning on the battlefield the independence of the
State. It is quite sure that these companies went with
General Ashe the next year, and were with him in the
campaign in Georgia when that State was conquered by
In the early part of 1777, a recruiting camp, called
Camp Quanky, was opened at Halifax, for the purpose
of recruiting the older regiments and for forming the
three battalions ordered by the Congress. Colonel John
Williams was in command of the camp and, according to
the reports sent in from time to time, he was successful
in enlisting the required number of men in a compara-
tively brief time. The older regiments were brought up to
the required number of men, who were quickly dispatched
to the front.
During the summer of 1777, the cause of liberty and in-
dependence was hanging in the balance. Washington's
army in the North had dwindled to a few thousand men.
EARLY DAYS OF THE REVOLUTION 45
and these were poorly equipped and supplied with arms.
In great contrast to the condition of the American army-
was that of the British which had landed at New York,
in July, numbering thirty thousand men, and was seeking
to attack and destroy Washington's little command.
Washington had sent out urgent appeals for reinforce-
ments to all the states. Governor Caswell issued orders
for North Carolina's quota of Continental troops to hurry
to Washington's assistance. Halifax was made the place
of rendezvous for all these troops before setting out for
the north. Here about four thousand men assembled. In
July, under the command of General Francis Nash and
with such able leaders as Colonels Hogan, Sumner, Bun-
combe, and Davidson, the troops set out, and, after march-
ing about five hundred miles, joined Washington at Phila-
delphia just in time to assist in the disastrous battles of
Brandywine and Germantown, in which General Nash
and Colonel Buncombe were killed besides a considerable
number of the rank and file.
It is interesting to note that Halifax jail appears to have
been at this time the general prison for Tories captured
at different places in the State. Shortly before the estab-
lishment of Camp Quanky, the celebrated Flora McDonald
spent some time in Halifax in the interest of her hus-
band, Allan McDonald, who was captured at the Battle
of Moore's Creek Bridge and confined in the Halifax jail.
It is said that, during his confinement, she exhausted her
means in trying to effect his release, which she finally
succeeded in accomplishing.
In the spring of 1777, the Tory hydra began to show
itself in a limited way in Halifax County. The county
records of that date show that the jail was filled with
persons charged with disaffection to the patriot cause.
Willie Jones, in a letter to Governor Caswell, speaks of
these prisoners as being very obnoxious. It is worthy of
note that these Halifax County patriots were vigilant
enough to prevent anything like organized bands of ma-
rauders among the Tories, and, as soon as a Tory showed
46 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
his hand, he was promptly arrested and put into a dry
place in jail.
In Edgecombe County, there had been considerable
trouble with the Tories. A marauding party of them had
made an attack upon Tarboro, but Colonel Irwin, of that
county had forestalled them and disarmed the whole
crowd, forcing them to take the oath of allegiance. It is
quite clear that some of these men who were giving
trouble in Edgecombe had fled from Halifax.
John Hamilton and Andrew Miller had left the county
and State some months before. Other Tories had gone
with them, and it was thought that Toryism was at an
end; but William Brimage, a man of considerable influ-
ence in Halifax, in 1777, became outspoken in his alle-
giance to the British crown and made himself especially
obnoxious. Governor Caswell issued a special order for
his arrest at all hazard. General Allen Jones, in command
of the brigade of the Halifax district, in one of his reports,
speaks of William Brimage as one of the leaders of the
cut throats. He fled from Halifax and was arrested near
Edenton and lodged in jail there. His wife is buried in
the old churchyard at Halifax. With him ended Toryism
in Halifax County. Thereafter, there were no Tories in
With Toryism thus stamped out, Halifax County passed
the remainder of the year 1777 with very little excite-
ment. The only other thing of note was the session of the
court of oyer and terminer, held by Judge Samuel Spencer
in the summer of that year. In a letter to the governor.
Judge Spencer complained that he had great difficulty
in securing persons to act as clerk of the court and
State's attorney. This was one of the few sessions of
that court that was held in Halifax during the Revolu-
tion, owing to the disordered condition of the country.
In the fall of 1777, an incident occurred that is worthy
of mention. Lieutenant John Allen, a gallant soldier in
the battalion of Continental troops from Halifax, per-
formed a heroic feat in bringing from Baltimore to New-
EARLY DAYS OF THE REVOLUTION 47
bern $2485.50, which was to be used to pay off soldiers.
Allen was selected by John Penn, member of the Conti-
nental Congress from North Carolina, for this special
duty. He secured a swift horse, and, with the money
concealed about his person, made the perilous trip
through British and Tory lines to Newbern and delivered
the money into the hands of Governor Caswell. Lieu-
tenant Allen was highly commended by his superior offi-
cers for this act of heroism. The report of this heroic
act is found in the Colonial Records.
HALIFAX COUNTY AND THE AMERICAN NAVY.
In the summer of 1775, during the excitement incident
to the war then going on, John Paul Jones, who after-
wards won the title of "father of the American navy",
came to Halifax and sojourned there for more than a
year. He had, prior to that time, varied experiences, and
had met with many misfortunes. In early manhood, he
had gone from his native country, Scotland, as a sailor,
had been master of a trader, had killed a man in self-
defense during a mutiny of the sailors, and had to flee
from the avengers of blood on account of that act. Com-
ing to America, he had made his way to Virginia, and
finally he found himself in Halifax.
One morning, as the story is told, Willie Jones came
down the street from his home, the Grove House, and
saw sitting in front of the Eagle Hotel a stranger. As
was the custom of Mr. Jones, he came up to the stranger
and accosted him.
"Where is your home?" asked Mr. Jones.
"I have none," replied the other.
"What is your nam.e ?" inquired the questioner.
"I have none", replied the disconsolate stranger.
Mr. Jones became interested, and, after a few more
questions, succeeded in getting the stranger to tell him
something of himself. He was invited to the Groves,
and later, on account of his ready wit and gentlemanly
bearing, became an adopted member of the family. The
stranger was no other than the afterwards celebrated
John Paul Jones. His name was John Paul, but, in com-
pliment to Willie Jones, he assumed the name of Jones.
Through the influence of Willie Jones, Joseph Hewes,
a member of the Continental Congress from North Caro-
HALIFAX COUNTY AND AMERICAN NAVY 49
lina, became acquainted with John Paul, probably during
the Constitutional Convention in Halifax, and later
nominated him for the position of Captain of the gun-
boat, Ranger, which position was tendered him by vote
of Congress. John Paul accepted the position tendered
him, and never again was a visitor to Halifax, but he re-
tained his admiration of Willie Jones even among the
stirring scenes he later witnessed.
As commander of the Ranger, John Paul Jones per-
formed some daring deeds of valor in British waters and
even upon British soil. He was received in France as a
hero, and the French government, in the spring of 1779,
fitted out a squadron, with the Bonhomme Richard as
the flag ship, and put Jones in command. On the 23rd
of September, 1779, the British frigate, Serapis, was en-
countered, and the Bonhomme Richard, at once, pre-
pared for action. The following account of the battle
that followed is taken from that of James Fenimore
Cooper, who pronounced it "The most bloody and obsti-
nate battle in the annals of naval warfare." While not
a quotation from Cooper, the account that follows is in
accordance with the facts as brought out by him.
When Jones sighted the enemy, it was about noon,
and he at once ordered every stitch of canvas to be set.
He did not, however, come in fighting position with the
enemy until about seven o'clock in the evening, at which
time objects on the water could be only dimly discerned,
but the bright moon assisted the Americans.
When within pistol shot, the Richard hurled a broad-
side at the British ship, and the fight was on. The Sera-
pis was a new ship, built in the best manner, and with a
much heavier armament than the Richard. She was
commanded by Captain Richard Pearson, of the British
navy, a naval officer of experience and courage.
In the early part of the action, the superior sailing
qualities of the Serapis enabled her to take several ad-
vantageous positions, which Jones was unable to prevent.
Not long after the fight began, many of the 18-pound
50 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
shot of the Serapis had entered the hull of the Richard
below the water line, and she began to leak in a threat-
ening manner. Jones ran the Richard up alongside the
Serapis and prepared to board, but the flag pole of his
ship was shot away and the Stars and Stripes dropped
into the sea.
Just before the boats closed, however. Captain Pear-
son, of the Serapis shouted above the roar of the battle
to Jones : "Has your ship struck her colors ?"
Jones thundered back his defiant and famous reply:
"I haven't begun to fight yet".
From the beginning to the ending of the battle, there
was not a man on board the Richard, who was ignorant
of the superiority of the Serapis. The crew of the Sera-
pis were picked men, whereas the Richard's crew con-
sisted of a part of English, French and American sailors,
and a part of Maltese, Portuguese, and Malays, the latter
contributing by their want of naval skill and knowledge
of the English language to depress rather than encour-
age any reasonable hope of success in a combat under
The terror of the scene was soon heightened by both
vessels taking fire ; but the fight continued with unabated
fury. A rumor ran through the crew of the Richard
that Jones had been killed. A frightened sailor ran up
to haul down the flag. The flag had been shot away and
Jones arrived upon the scene in time to knock the coward
down and force him to continue the fight. At last the
mainmast of the Serapis began to totter to its fall, her
fire slackened, and about midnight the British flag was
struck, and Captain Pearson surrendered his sword to
So terribly was the Richard cut to pieces that it was
found impossible, after the fight, to get her into port,
and she sank soon after. Jones took his prize to Holland,
and it is no exaggeration to say that the whole world
was astonished at his bravery and success. He was re-
ceived in Paris with the greatest demonstrations of
HALIFAX COUNTY AND AMERICAN NAVY 51
honor and respect. On one side of the English Channel
it was "the pirate Jones," and on the other, "Jones, the
hero." The King of France gave him a gold mounted
sword and asked the consent of Congress to decorate
him with the Order of Military Merit. Congress voted
him its thanks and a gold medal. Later, he was made a
Chevalier of France.
Jones, now a hero of renown, remained in France until
the early part of 1781 when he returned to America and
was placed in command of the frigate America. He set
forth his ideas of a navy, which the government was
slow in adopting. He went again to France in 1783,
where he remained for four years, and returned to Amer-
ica in 1787. The next year Jones entered the service of
Russia, but was later humiliated by the jealousy of the
Russian officers and compelled to resign his command.
Returning to France, he remained in retirement during
the rest of his life. He died July 18, 1792, in the forty-
fifth year of his age.
His remains were buried in Paris, and, by neglect, the
burial place was lost. In 1905, however, the remains
were discovered by General Horace Porter, the American
Ambassador to France, and transported to America and
consigned to rest at the United States Naval Academy
at Annapolis. There is a monument to the "Father of
the American Navy" in Potomac Park, Washington, D. C.
Very little of historical importance occurred in Hali-
fax during the years 1779 and 1780. Stirring events,
however, in which troops from the county played a con-
spicuous part, were transpiring elsewhere. "Mad" An-
thony Wayne, in one of the most daring and extraordi-
nary bayonet charges in all history, captured Stony
Point on the Hudson river from the British, July 15, 1779.
Major Hardy Murfree, of Hertford County, with a bat-
talion of North Carolinians, some from Halifax, led a
portion of the attacking columns and performed heroic
service. Horatio Gates was disastrously defeated at
Camden, S. C, by the British under Cornwallis, and Ben-
jamin Lincoln surrendered Charleston. In both of these
disasters, soldiers from Halifax participated with signal
though unavailing bravery.
At Charleston, James Hogan, who had shortly before
been promoted to the rank of brigadier-general by the
Continental Congress, fell into the hands of the British,
was imprisoned at Haddrell's Point, S. C, and there soon
afterward died. With him was captured, also, the regi-
ment of 600 men he had enlisted at Halifax the year be-
fore. It is said of General Hogan, whose home was near
where Hobgood is now, that he refused the offer of a
conditional parole because his men were not offered the
same favor and preferred to remain and bear the hard-
ships of prison life with them. His grave is somewhere
in South Carolina, but the exact location is unknown.
At Camden, the American army was almost anni-
hilated by the veteran troops under Earl Cornwallis.
PASSING EVENTS 53
General Gates fled from the field early in the fight and
left the doomed men to destruction. Hal Dixon's regi-
ment of North Carolinians, some of them fr-om Halifax,
and some Marylanders, were the only troops to hold their
ground to the last, retreating in good order from the
field only when it was seen that all was lost. General
Isaac Gregory, of Camden County, led the Edenton bri-
gade, among whom were some Halifax militia, but he
was wounded and forced to retreat.
Two sessions of the General Assembly were held in
Halifax during 1779, the first beginning January 19th
and ending February 13th, and the second extending
from October 18th to November 10th. In both of these
sessions, the County was represented in the Senate by
Orondates Davis and in the House of Commons, the first
session, by Egbert Haywood and John Whitaker, and the
second session by Willie Jones and Augustine Willis. The
town of Halifax was represented in the House of Com-
mons, both sessions, by Henry Montford.
Not much legislation affecting the county was enacted.
About the only thing of note was the petition of the
people of the lower end of the county to be detached
from Halifax and united to Edgecombe. There appears
to have been no objection to this on the part of the Hali-
fax members. John Whitaker, in response to the peti-
tioners, introduced the bill for this slice of Halifax to be
transferred to Edgecombe, and the generous deed was
done. By vote of the Assembly, the following officers of
the Halifax regiment of State Militia were elected : John
Whitaker, Colonel; James Allen, Lieutenant-Colonel;
John Branch, First Major; William Weldon, Second
Halifax, being at the time the real capital of North
Carolina, was well guarded by the militia of the State.
Several regiments were continuously held in camp in
and around the town. The jail was also still crowded
with military prisoners. In June, 1779, General Allen
Jones, in command at Halifax, in a report to the gov-
54 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
ernor, said that he was compelled to give the prisoners
all the liberty possible because of the crowded condition
of the jail and because he feared an epidemic might
break out among them. At the session of the General
Assembly of 1780, the following officers of the Halifax
regiment were recommended to the governor for appoint-
ment and were accordingly commissioned: James Allen,
Colonel; John Branch, Lieutenant-Colonel; William Wel-
don, First Major; Thomas Scurlock, Second Major.
The year 1781, was a stirring one for Halifax County
and its people. Several events, occurring elsewhere, but
participated in by Halifax County men, deserve more
than a passing notice.
At the Battle of Cowpens, South Carolina, January 17,
1781, Colonel Tarleton, with a command of British regu-
lars, was signally defeated by General Daniel Morgan, of
Virginia, with a small body of Continental troops and a
few battalions of North Carolina militia. In this con-
flict, Halifax County soldiers performed heroic service.
Nicholas Long, a kinsman of Colonel Nicholas Long
and a gallant soldier in the Halifax battalion of Conti-
nental Cavalry, was with Colonel William Washington in
his celebrated chase of Tarleton from the battlefield, in
which Tarleton received a sabre cut in the hand admin-
istered by Colonel Washington. In the pursuit Long be-
came separated from his comrades and found himself
assailed by two British troopers. He wheeled and took
the back track, hotly pursued by the dragoons, who fired
upon him but missed their aim. In the chase, the troopers
became separated, and Long observing it, suddenly
turned upon his pursuers, and, with his sabre, unhorsed
both men in detail and held them at his mercy until as-
In Morgan's race with Cornwallis for the Catawba river
and in Greene's retreat to the sheltering waters of the
Dan, Halifax County troops performed their part. When
Greene recrossed the Dan and fought Cornwallis to a
standstill at Guilford Court House, men from Halifax
PASSING EVENTS 55
were in the thickest of the attacks and counter attacks.
When the British army retreated to Wilmington about
the first of April, 1781, it was clearly demonstrated that
North Carolina had beaten the hitherto invincible Corn-
wallis and was sending him to his doom.
THE BRITISH OCCUPATION OF HALIFAX.
After the retreat of Cornwallis from Guilford Court
House to Wilmington in March, 1781, it was a matter of
keen speculation as to what that discreet and intrepid offi-
cer would next undertake. Patriot leaders all over the
State had their attention focused upon him and were en-
deavoring to forecast his next move. Lingering only
three weeks in the city by the sea to rest his troops from
their arduous campaign, Cornwallis proceeded north-
ward to Virginia in response to orders he had received
from the British Commander-in-chief in New York.
General Greene, instead of pursuing the defeated Brit-
ish, turned aside and led his army into South Carolina in
order to expel the British from that State. Cornwallis
was, therefore, left to march unopposed, across the State.
Only a few regiments of State Militia were in arms, and
they were busy watching the movements of the Tory
forces that had begun to mobilize.
At Halifax, as soon as it was known that Cornwallis
was marching northward, there was great excitement
among the people and hurried preparation among the
soldiers stationed there. General Allen Jones, in command
of the troops of the Halifax district, with Governor Nash,
was holding his forces in readiness to attack the invading
enemy if an opportunity should be presented. General
Jones had his headquarters in Halifax and the regiments
from Northampton, Edgecombe, Warren and Halifax were
encamped along Quanky in daily expectation that the
enemy would appear.
About the first of May, it was known that the British
had left Wilmington and were several days on the march.
Scouting parties were sent out from Halifax to ascertain
THE BRITISH OCCUPATION OF HALIFAX 57
their whereabouts. It was learned on May 3rd that Tarle-
ton's dragoons had crossed Fishing Creek and were ad-
vancing along the Huckleberry Swamp road. Governor
Nash and General Jones held a hasty conference together
with the commissioned officers of the different regiments,
and the decision was reached that it would be a useless
expenditure of life to undertake to oppose the advance of
the British with untried militia against Tarleton's veteran
Accordingly, on the afternoon of May 3rd, General
Jones retired with his command in the direction of War-
renton, leaving Halifax to the mercy of the enemy. Gov-
ernor Nash and the Council of State, together with
other State officials, also left the town. Halifax, therefore,
readily and quickly put aside its military appearance and
assumed the air of an unpretentious village.
The next day, Tarleton at the head of two hundred
dragoons, crossed Quanky and rode into the town. The
redcoats passed down the street, observed indifferently
and scornfully by the people, and came opposite the Eagle
Hotel where they halted. Tarleton and his aids dis-
mounted and went into the hotel and secured rooms for
Cornwallis and his retinue and himself and his aids. Again
mounting, they rode back to meet Cornwallis and the rest
of the army. The town was completely occupied on the
afternoon of May 4th, and the British troops to the num-
ber of about four thousand encamped on Quanky, on the
Grove estate, on the plantation of Colonel Nicholas Long,
and in the homes of the residents in and around Halifax.
From Wheeler's History of North America the follow-
ing incident of the occupation is extracted. It was origi-
nally published in the People's and Howitt's Journal of
New York :
"On the march of the British army from Wilmington to
Virginia, in 1781, Colonel Tarleton, near 'Twanky Chapel'
in Halifax County, either from a scarcity of provisions
or from a malicious desire to destroy the property of the
American citizens who were opposed to the British,
58 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
caught all the horses, cattle, hogs, and even fowls that
he could lay hands on, and destroyed or appropriated them
to his own use. The male, and most of the female in-
habitants of the country fled from the approach of the
British troops, and hid themselves in the swamps and
forests adjacent ; and when they passed through the upper
part of the county, while every one else left the premises
on which she lived, Mrs. Powell (then Miss Bishop) stood
her ground, and faced the foe fearlessly. But it would
not do ; they took their horses and cattle, and among the
former, a favorite pony lof her own and drove them off to
the Camp, which was about a mile distant. Young as she
was, she determined to have her pony again, and she must
necessarily go to the British camp, and go alone, as no
one would accompany her. And alone she went, on foot, at
night, and without any weapon of defence, and in due
time arrived at the British camp.
"By what means she managed to gain an audience with
Tarleton is not known, but she appeared before him un-
announced, and raising herself erect, said, T have come
to you, sir, to demand restoration of my property, which
your knavish fellows stole from my father's yard.' 'Let
me understand you. Miss,' replied Tarleton, taken com-
pletely by surprise.
" 'Well, sir,' said she, 'your roguish men in red coats
came to my father's yard about sundown, and stole my
pony, and I have walked here alone and unprotected to
claim and demand him ; and, sir, I must and will have him.
I fear not your men; they are base and unprincipled
enough to dare to offer insult to any unprotected female ;
but their cowardly hearts will prevent them from doing
her bodily injury.'
"And just then, by the light of a camp fire, espying her
own dear little pet pony at a distance, she continued,
'There, sir, is my horse. I shall mount him and ride
peaceably home ; and if you have any of the gentlemanly
feeling within you of which your men are totally desti-
tute, or if you have any regard for their safety, you will
THE BRITISH OCCUPATION OF HALIFAX 59
see, sir, that I am not interrupted. But before I go I
wish to say to you, that he who can, and will not prevent
this base and cowardly stealing from henroosts, stables,
and barnyards, is no better, in my estimation, than the
mean, good-for-nothing, guilty wretches who do the dirty
work with their own hands ! Good night, sir.' And, with-
out waiting further, she took her pony, uninterrupted, and
galloped safely home. Tarleton was so astounded that he
ordered that she should be permitted to do as she chose."
This was Tarleton's first defeat at Halifax at the hands
of a woman. He met with another more crushing a day
or two later. Mrs. Ellet, in her "Women of the Revolu-
tion", has recorded the names of two Halifax women, Mrs.
Willie Jones and Mrs. Nicholas Long, whose patriotic zeal
is greatly commended. Wheeler speaks as follows about
"Mrs. Willie Jones was a daughter of Colonel Mount-
ford (Joseph), and combined with much personal beauty,
great brilliancy of wit, and suavity of manner. One of
her acquaintances says that she was the only person, with
whom he was ever acquainted, that was loved devotedly,
enthusiastically loved, by every human being who knew
There is a well known story regarding a passage of
wit between Mrs. Jones and her sister, Mrs. John B.
Ashe, on the one hand, and Colonel Tarleton on the other.
The incident occurred at the home of Willie Jones, the
Grove house. Colonel Tarleton, in the presence of the
two ladies, referred to Colonel William Washington, who
had wounded Tarleton in the hand at the Battle of Cow-
pens, in an uncomplimentary way as an illiterate, igno-
rant boor, hardly able to write his name. Mrs. Jones
quickly resented the language used by the British officer.
"Colonel Tarleton," she said, "You know very well
that Colonel Washington, if he can't write as well as
some men, knows how to make his mark." As she said
this she glanced at Tarleton's hand, which bore the scar
of Washington's sabre stroke. The fiery Briton turned
red, but continued the conversation.
60 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
"I would be happy to see Colonel Washington," said
Tarleton, sarcastically, trying to recover his lost ground.
"If you had looked behind you at the Battle of Cow-
pens, Colonel Tarleton," rejoined Mrs. Ashe, in the same
spirit, "You would have enjoyed that pleasure."
That thrust was too much for the already chagrined
officer, and his hand involuntarily grasped the hilt of his
sword. At that moment, however, General Leslie, Tarle-
ton's superior, entered the room, and, seeing the situa-
tion, rebuked the discomfited Briton, and the incident
Wheeler speaks as follows of Mrs. Nicholas Long:
"Mrs. Long was a Miss McKinney. Her husband. Col-
onel Nicholas Long, was Commissary-General of the
North Carolina forces. She was a woman of great energy
of mind and body, and high mental endowments. She
died at the advanced age of eighty, leaving a numerous
offspring. Her virtues and patriotism were the themes
of the praise and admiration of the officers of the army
of both parties."
While encamped at Halifax, foraging parties were
sent out by Cornwallis into nearly every section of the
county to gather supplies for his army before setting
out to Virginia. Stedman, the historian who was with
the British during the occupation of Halifax, records the
fact that these foraging parties, or marauders, were
guilty of some crimes that were a disgrace to the name
of man. Tarleton, in his "Campaign in the Southern
Provinces of North America", states that a sergeant and
a dragoon were executed at Halifax for rape and robbery.
The patriot forces, who had retired from the town
upon the arrival of the British, kept watch upon the
movements of the enemy, and were ready at any time
to pounce upon them. The Edgecombe regiment under
Colonel Hunter, Halifax under Colonel Allen, and North-
ampton under Colonel Gee were still in arms and ready
to strike the foe at a minute's notice. There were un-
important clashes between the opposing commands at
THE BRITISH OCCUPATION OF HALIFAX 61
Swift Creek, Fishing Creek, and near Halifax. In one
of the bold dashes of the patriots into Halifax, one of
the American cavalry-men became separated from his
comrades, and, as he dashed for safety across Quanky
bridge, was confronted on the bridge by several of the
enemy. Beset behind and before, he reared his horse
and made him leap the railing, plunging to the water
thirty feet below. The horse was killed, but the daring
hero made his escape. Tradition does not record his
After a delay of about a week, Cornwallis crossed the
river at Halifax and retired slowly through Northamp-
ton and Brunswick County, Va., to Petersburg, where he
was joined by the British army operating in the Old Do-
minion under General Philips and the traitor, Benedict
Arnold. Halifax was thus rid of the enemy and was
at once reoccupied by General Allen Jones in command
of the Halifax brigade. Cornwallis, after a short and
decisive campaign in Virginia, surrendered his entire
command to General Washington on October 19, 1781.
YEARS SUCCEEDING THE REVOLUTION.
News of the surrender of Cornwallis was received in
Halifax, late in October, 1781, with demonstrations of
joy. The militia in arms paraded the streets and fired sa-
lutes in honor of the glorious tidings. Everyone felt that
the long war had victoriously ended, that the indepen-
dence of the colonies was established, and that British
dominion was forever terminated in the United Colonies.
Each of the thirteen states was now independent, and,
there were, therefore, thirteen sovereign republics, where
a few years before there had been thirteen provinces.
Each one was independent of all others and owed no alle-
giance to any power on earth. An important question now
uppermost in the minds of all was to determine where this
spirit of sovereignty would lead and how to regulate its
In the solution of this important and perplexing ques-
tion, Willie Jones, the sage of Quanky Creek, performed
an interesting part. He had served as a delegate in the
Continental Congress during the closing years of the
Revolution ; but now that the war had closed he refused
to act in that capacity longer, saying that the Congress
had been created as a war expedient, and, having done its
work, there was no longer any reason for its existence.
He, therefore, retired from the Congress to his home in
Halifax, and refused to take part in any further business
of a national character. North Carolina was the only
sovereignty he acknowledged.
For several years after the close of the Revolution,
there is very little to record. When peace was declared
the men, who had been on the firing line, in garrisons,
and in camp, returned to their homes, and began again
YEARS SUCCEEDING THE REVOLUTION 63
the building up of their communities. Apparently, so
glad was every one that the terrible war had closed that
no one was thoughtful enough to perpetuate in writing,
or otherwise, the part that the county had taken in the
It is said that, after the close of the Revolution, there
was not even a pamphlet written on State history for a
period of about forty-five years. In consequence of this
neglect, North Carolina has never received credit for
what her people did during those times. Along this line
a letter written from Halifax to Archibald D. Murphy
by Allen J. Davie in 1826 will be illuminating. Among
other things he said :
"In writing a history of this State, it will be almost
absolutely necessary, in order to do justice to the part we
bore in the Revolution to have access to my father's pa-
pers, particularly of some books of correspondence writ-
ten from '79 to '83, which show that North Carolina
supported the troops of the whole Southern States, and,
that without the aid of the specific tax laid by this State
and placed under the management of my father, General
Greene would have been forced to disband his army and
the cavalry of Virginia, which they could not feed; that
both man and horse grew fat on the flesh pots of the Roa-
noke ; circumstances for which, as a State, we have never,
either as a State or as individuals, had justice awarded
Mr. Davie, in this letter, is referring to the services
which his father. General William R. Davie, rendered
the State while he was Commissary-General. It is clear,
therefore, as "both man and horse grew fat on the flesh
pots of the Roanoke," that Halifax County, occupying the
greatest extent along the Roanoke, was a large part of
the granary which supplied the needs of the southern
army during the times that tried men's souls.
During this period of comparative silence, it can only
be inferred that the people of Halifax County were "pur-
suing the even tenor of their way" with very little to
64 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
characterize them above the people of other counties. Dr.
Kemp P. Battle, of the University of North Carolina, in
an address at the Centennial of Salem Academy in 1902,
gave a pen picture of the conditions prevailing in North
Carolina during the generation following the Revolution,
much of which applies directly to Halifax County. Among
other things, he says:
"Our geographer of 1802 speaks kindly of our people.
He described them as mostly planters, living three or
four miles apart in a plentiful country, but with no ready
market for produce. Many farmers turned their corn in-
to whiskey and their wheat into flour, and sent them on
lumbering wagons to distant regions, while others con-
verted the grain into hogs, and the produce of the fields
thus became at once a savory article of food and a grunt-
ing but convenient vehicle for the transportation of it-
self. Hogsheads of tobacco were placed on little wheels,
with axletree and shafts and then rolled hundreds of
miles to market.
"The farmers with no near neighbors were extremely
hospitable to travelers, who brought them the news from
the great world; but they had a plentiful lack of litera-
ture and science."
For Halifax County farmers, the only markets, of any
degree of importance, during the period from 1780 to
1800, were Petersburg, Richmond, and Norfolk. To these
towns of the Old Dominion, the farmers along the Roa-
noke sent their produce, sometimes in wagons, and of-
ten in boats, down the river and sound to the ocean, and
up to Norfolk. Droves of hogs, sheep, and cattle were
regularly driven overland to these cities. Hogsheads of
tobacco, as mentioned by Dr. Battle, were regularly trans-
ported on wheels to Petersburg, where tobacco factories
had been located, and where there was a ready market.
Halifax County, thus isolated, but naturally rich, began
its slow development.
William R. Davie
HALIFAX COUNTY AND THE NATIONAL CONSTITUTION.
Early in 1786, the question of North Carolina's attitude
toward a central government for the thirteen indepen-
dent States was uppermost in politics. In no county was
it more discussed than in Halifax, where two distinct
views were held. Willie Jones was an ultra States
Rights man and looked with disfavor upon the proposi-
tion. Opposed to him was General William R. Davie,
who had located in Halifax for the practice of law in
1783, and who was an earnest advocate of the proposi-
tion to unite the States in a stronger bond of union than
existed under the Articles of Confederation. Each of
these distinguished and able men had their earnest sup-
When the Constitutional Convention was called to meet
in Philadelphia, in May 1787, the General Assembly se-
lected the following delegates: Richard Caswell, Hugh
Williamson, William R. Davie, Alexander Martin, Willie
Jones, and Richard Dobbs Spaight. Halifax County had
two in this eminent body, Willie Jones and William R.
Davie. Richard Caswell was, at the time, governor of
the State and decline to serve, William Blount, of Beau-
fort County, being appointed in his place. Willie Jones
refused to have anything to do with the convention and
did not go. Davie went to Philadelphia and was present
throughout the long session from May to September
and had considerable influence in making and shaping
the immortal document.
After the Constitutional Convention adjourned, Gen-
eral Davie returned to Halifax an enthusiastic advocate
of the immediate adoption of the Constitution by the
State. Willie Jones, however, counselled caution and de-
66 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
lay. The State Convention to ratify or reject it was
called to meet in Hillsboro in August, 1788. Both Willie
Jones and William R. Davie were delegates from Hali-
fax County, and were the real leaders of their respective
views in the discussions.
Soon after assembling, it was ascertained that the
Anti-Federalists were in the majority. Willie Jones was
the recognized leader of that division of the delegates
and had the convention in his grasp from beginning to
end. Notwithstanding the eloquence of Davie and the
logic of James Iredell in advocacy of the constitution,
when the vote was taken, the constitution was reject-
ed by a vote of 84 to 184. North Carolina thus refused
to enter the union and took no part in the election of
George Washington as president in the fall of 1788.
The next year, however, another convention at Fay-
etteville ratified the Constitution, and North Carolina
became a member of the Federal union.
On April 16, 1791, George Washington, in his tour of
the Southern States, while he was president, arrived in
Halifax and spent a night in the ancient borough. There
is nothing definitely known as to how he was entertained
during his stay. Tradition has given out the informa-
tion that he was royally banqueted at the Eagle Hotel,
which stood near the river in the lot almost opposite the
old Allen home, now standing. The president seems to
have been somewhat impressed with the town ; for in his
diary, which he kept on his journey from place to
place, he has a lengthy paragraph conveying his im-
pressions. The following is the paragraph referred to
somewhat modernized as to punctuation and capitali-
"Halifax, N. C, Saturday, April 16, 1791.
"At this place, I arrived at about six o'clock after cross-
ing the Roanoke, on the south bank of which it stands.
This river is crossed in flat boats which take in a car-
riage and four horses at once. At this time, being low.
THE NATIONAL CONSTITUTION 67
the water was not rapid, but at times must be much so
as it frequently overflows its banks which appear to be at
least twenty-five feet perpendicularly in height. The
lands upon the river appear to be rich and the low
grounds of considerable width, but these which lay be-
tween the different rivers, namely, Appomattox, Notta-
way, Meherrin, and Roanoke, are all flat and poor and
covered principally with pine timber. It has already
been observed that before the rain fell, I was travel-
ling in a continued cloud of dust; but after it rained
some time, the scene was reversed, and my passage Vv^as
through water, so level are the roads. From Petersburg
to Halifax, in sight of the road, are but few good houses
with small appearance of wealth. The lands are culti-
vated in tobacco, corn, wheat, and oats ; but tobacco and
the raising of pork for market seems to be the princi-
pal dependence of the inhabitants, especially toward the
Roanoke. Cotton and flax are also raised but not exten-
sively. Halifax is the first town I came to after passing
the line between the two states, and is about twenty
miles from this place, vessels by the aid of oars and set-
ting poles are brought for the produce which comes to
this place and others along the river; and may be car-
ried eight or ten miles higher to the falls, which are
neither great nor much extent; above these (which are
called great falls) there are others, but none but what
with little improvement may be passed. The town stands,
upon high ground, and it is the reason given for not plac-
ing it at the head of navigation being none but low
grounds between (it) and the falls. It seems to be in a
decline, and does not, it is said, contain a thousand souls."
One singular thing about this record in the diary of
the "Father of His Country" is that he makes no men-
tion of anyone he met at Halifax, notwithstanding the
fact that a galaxy of brilliant men lived there at the time.
It is said that Willie Jones was asked to be chairman of
the committee to entertain the president during his so-
journ, but he declined with the remark that he would be
68 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
glad to meet Washington as a gentleman and soldier,
but that he could not greet him as President of the Unit-
ed States. This is understood to mean that the veteran
States Rights advocate had never been reconciled to the
adoption of the Federal Constitution and v/as still op-
posed to North Carolina's membership in the national
In the first election of members of Congress from
North Carolina, in 1790, Halifax County furnished one
of the five that represented the State in the House of
Representatives. John B. Ashe, who had served with
ability in the Revolution, received an almost unanimous
vote in the Halifax district. He was re-elected in the
fall of 1791 and served until 1793. Halifax County was
signally honored during these early years of the State
and Country's history. John Haywood, a lawyer of
ability, was elected Attorney-General of the State in
1790 and served until 1794, when he was elected Judge
of the Superior Court. General William R. Davie was
appointed Major-General, in 1797, of a division of troops
raised in anticipation of war with France. The next
year, the project of war having passed, Davie was elect-
ed Governor of North Carolina, but resigned in 1799 to
accept the position of Ambassador to France.
During the years 1787-1800, Halifax County exerted
great influence in both State and National affairs. Per-
haps, no county in the whole country had more men of
ability and influence. Besides Willie Jones, "William R.
Davie, and John Haywood, already mentioned, there
were Egbert Haywood, Nicholas Long, Willis Alston,
Henry Montford, Orondates Davis, John Webb, Ben-
jamin McCulloch, John Branch, Matthew C. Whitaker,
and Peter Quarles, who had already made a state-wide
reputation as men of real worth and ability.
FIRST TWO DECADES OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY.
For twenty years following the beginning of the nine-
teenth century, Halifax County had practically no his-
tory. Nothing beyond the ordinary routine of daily mat-
ters disturbed the equilibrium of public affairs. Great
problems of national government were being worked out,
it is true, and Halifax had a part to perform in their so-
lution, but no memorials have been left.
In the Federal House of Representatives, Halifax was
again prominent from 1799 to 1815. John B. Ashe had
retired from that position in 1793, and for six years the
county lost the representative. In 1799, however, Wil-
lis Alston, Jr., was elected, and was successively re-
elected until 1815, when he retired from national poli-
tics. Alston had no opposition for his first two terms,
but, in 1803, he had the race of his life when his oppo-
nent was General William R. Davie, who had shortly
before returned from France almost a national figure.
The campaign that year was bitter and exciting. Als-
ton had always been a strong supporter of President
Jefferson, and therefore, a Democrat, although his ene-
mies called him an aristocrat. Davie was a Federalist,
but had recently been appointed by President Jefferson to
the position of Indian Commissioner for the Southern
States, and had, in more ways than one, shown decided in-
clination toward the dominant party. Alston won by a
narrow margin. General Davie looked upon his defeat as
the greatest humiliation of his life, and, shortly after
the election, left Halifax and spent the remainder of his
life on one of his farms in South Carolina.
Alston was in Congress during the period of the War
of 1812 ; and, although the war was not popular in North
70 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
Carolina, he was an earnest supporter of the administra-
tion at Washington in the conduct of militarv' affairs
Halifax County furnished two companies for the national
army in that war, but they saw very little service. In
1814, they were ordered to Norfolk to resist a threatened
attack by the British upon that place. While encamped
there, an epidemic of "Camp Plague" broke out among
them and many died. It was during the epidemic that
Colonel Andrew Joyner, who was in command of the
third regiment of North Carolina Volunteers, endeared
himself to the soldiers by his daily attention to their
On account of the interest in the record of these sol-
diers of Halifax Countj', who volunteered to resist the
invasion of the British, the complete roster is here given :
Jeremiah Slade, Lieutenant-Colonel ; James Hill, First
Major, Andrew Joyner, Second Major; James Overstreet,
Captain; William C. WTiitaker, Lieutenant; William
Brickie, Second Lieutenant; Moses Grimm.er, Fifer; pri-
vates, John Vaughan, William Crowell, John Ricks, James
Whitaker, Thomas Applewhite, Wallis Nicholson, Timothy
Connell, Samuel Simmons, John Parker, John Scot, James
Gaskins, Henry Bradford, Thomas Bradford, William
Willey, .John Bradford, George Goodwin, Willie Watson
Thomas B. Parker, David Douglas, Wilson Brantley, John
Glover, Hall Hudson, John W. Branch, -John Knight, James
Merrit, Washington Turner, Samuel Brickie, John Shields.
James Young, John Br\'ant, James Brantly, James Law-
rence, Benjamin Pearce, John Matthews, Hansel Home.
Cullen Grimmer, Jethro Parker, Miles Cross, Willis Shel-
ton, Robert Saunders, Patrick McDaniel, Wilson W. Car-
ter, John Scott, Edv.-ard King, Hiram King, Jesse A.
Brooks, Blake Baker, Lewis Lewis, Joseph Pulley, Kin-
chen Harris, Jacob Bartholomew, James Abington, com-
posing the first company.
Of the second company, the following is the roster:
Isham Matthews, Captain ; Thomas Nicholson, Lieuten-
ant; John Alston, Ensign; Privates, Zachariah Sullivan.
FIRST DECADES OF NINETEENTH CENTURY 71
Francis Anderson, Halrin Ashe, William Brown, James
Ashe, William H. Ballance, Robert Brinkley, Jesse Black-
bum, Asa Blackburn, William J. Bradie, John Coolin.
John Curtin, Jesse Christie, Samuel Carter, Gideon Dam-
eron, William R. Daniel, Roderick Easley, Allen Easley,
Eaton F. Allen, Allen Flood, Wilson Green, Thomas Green,
William Gurley, Thomas G. Grimestead, Benjamin Green,
Jesse Hamblet, Miley Harbin, David Harris, Jesse Har-
low, ~TTabriel Hawkins, John Hawes, Hansel Hathcock,
Edmund Jackson, Beverly Jackson, Robert Jones, John
Jordan, John King, Solomon Lochlear, Exum Low, Samuel
Lochlear, John Lee, Jr., John A. Losset, Jesse Moore, Al-
fred Moore, John Moore, Jr., William Montford, William
Moore, John Mann, James Mason, Arthur Manley, Guil-
ford Nicholson, Thomas H. Green, William Onions, Eaton
Powell, Rica Pullin, John Pugh, Ransom Powell, Frederick
Pully, John Porter, Allen Powell, Michael Rand, Joseph
Studivant, Abner Spear, Thomas Simmons, Peter Ship,
Whiles Studivant, Arthur Spear, John Weaver, Lemuel
Wilkins, John Wright, Sr., Caleb Woodard, Thomas Ward.
This command of North Carolina veterans spent the
fall and \Ninter of 1814-15 in the trenches near Norfolk,
Va. They were in expectation of active service when the
British landed near Washington, D. C, defeated a small
body of Americans at Bladenburg, Md., and captured the
capital city. ^Mien the American forces at Fort McHenry,
near Baltimore, resisted the attacks of the enemy and
beat them off, it was expected that the next attempt would
be upon Norfolk. The American forces, at that point,
among whom were the Halifax companies, were in daily
and almost hourly expectation that a landing of the enemy
would be made.
Admiral Cockburn, however, in command of the Brit-
ish fleet operating in Chesapeake Bay, made a demonstra-
tion against Norfolk, entered the mouth of the Elizabeth
river, measured the American forces in that vicinity, and
sailed out to sea without striking a blow. The Halifax
boys were a little disappointed in not getting a chance to
72 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
grapple with the red coats, and, after peace was declared,
marched back to Halifax and were mustered out of
During this period, Halifax County continued to have
commanding influence in the affairs of the State. Hutchins
G. Burton, who lived near Enfield, was elected Attorney-
General in 1810, resigned in 1816, was elected to Congress
in 1819, and served until he was elected Governor in 1824.
William Drew was chosen Attorney-General in 1816 and
resigned in November, 1825. He lived in the town of Hal-
ifax. John Branch, of Enfield, became Governor of the
State in 1817 and served one term. Joseph J. Daniel was
elected to the Superior Court bench in 1816 and was later
elevated to the Supreme Court. All of these men pos-
sessed more than average ability and reflected honor upon
themselves and the county, as well as the State.
THE VISIT OF LAFAYETTE.
In 1824, General Lafayette, the great Frenchman, who
came to America during the darkest days of the Revo-
lution, and assisted Washington in achieving American
independence, made a visit to the land he had fought for
nearly fifty years before. Lafayette was a veteran of two
Revolutions. After American independence was assured,
he returned to France ; and when the great French Revo-
lution came like a nightmare upon Europe, he espoused
the cause of the people, but was a Conservative. Different
from other great Frenchmen of that period, he escaped
the guillotine, saw the rise and downfall of the first French
Republic, witnessed the beginning and ending of the
First Empire, and beheld the Restoration of the Bour-
bon line of kings.
Now, in his old age, he had come back to revisit the
scenes of the battles of his young manhood. In the
party, besides the General, were his son, whose name is
unknown, and his secretarj'-, Lerasseur, besides others,
who have left no memorials. Everywhere throughout the
country, north and south, the party was received with
every mark of honor and esteem ; and nowhere more than
in Halifax County.
Lerasseur wrote very entertainingly of the receptions
tendered the aged patriot in the large towns and cities of
the United States. His account of the trip through Hali-
fax County is very meager. He says:
"From Murfreesboro we went next day to Halifax,
where we crossed the Roanoke in a ferry boat amidst the
thunder of artillery, which awaited the arrival of Gen-
eral Lafayette on the opposite shore . . . We only slept
at Halifax, and, in two days, after traveling over frightful
74 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
roads, reached Raleigh. Nothing was neglected by Gov-
ernor Burton in doing the honors of his dwelling to the
national guest." The night spent in Halifax was Feb.
It is well established tradition that, in honor of the
distinguished guest, a banquet was given at the Eagle
hotel, and after the banquet, a ball occupied the attention
of the guests until the "wee sma" hours of the morning.
General Lafayette was said to have been a graceful dancer,
and many a Halifax dame, before and after the Civil
War, took pride in saying she danced with the General
on that occasion. There was one circumstance that was
the cause of much comment among the ladies present,
that General Lafayette's hair was black while that of his
son was gray. The illusion was dispelled, however, when
the General frankly stated that he was wearing a wig.
Next day, Lafayette and his party were escorted, on
the way to Raleigh, as far as Enfield by a delegation ap-
pointed for that purpose by Governor Burton. At En-
field, he was entertained at the Branch residence, outside
of Enfield, where a great crowd assembled to meet
him. A school of boys taught by Alexander McClellan,
one mile from town, carrying cornstalk muskets, attended
in a body and attracted much attention. General Lafay-
ette made a speech from the porch to the assembled
throng, complimented the school boys for their soldierly
bearing, and pleased the older people by referring to the
gallant conduct of their fathers in the Revolution.
Leaving Enfield, the party continued the journey to
Raleigh, escorted by Adjutant-General Daniel, Colonel
William Polk, and Chief -Justice Taylor, who had been ap-
pointed to conduct the party to Raleigh,
This visit of General Lafayette is commented upon as
one of the big social events of the times. It is pointed
out that the Eagle hotel, where the party was entertained
in Halifax, had been honored before in having Washing-
ton, on one occasion, as its guest, and in being the head-
quarters of the members of the Provincial Congresses
THE VISIT OF LAFAYETTE 75
and the General Assemblies, before and during the Revo-
lution. It was located on a slight elevation, on the right
hand side of the street coming up from the river, and
nothing is left now but the remains of the chimneys that
tumbled to the earth some twenty-five years ago.
The house in Enfield, in which Lafayette was enter-
tained, was owned at the time by Governor Branch, who
was then United States Senator from North Carolina, and
was the birthplace of General L. O'B. Branch, who ren-
dered distinguished senice in the Civil War and who was
four years old at the time of Lafayette's visit.
Halifax town was, at the time, an important centre,
both of commercial and social influence. The visit of the
distinguished Frenchmen called together the principal
men and women of the county, and, no doubt, the intel-
lectual and social worth of the inhabitants was fully
Before, during, and for twenty-five years after the
Revolution, there is no mention of schools in the County.
Planters, who did not send their children away to school,
either to England or some of the northern Colonies, em-
ployed private tutors for them. It is probable that several
families, in some localities, united in employing a teacher
and conducting a school at some central point, to which
the children of the neighborhood were sent. There was no
effort made, looking to public education, for more than
thirty years after the close of the war.
The first school, of which there is any mention, was
taught by James B. Benson in the town of Halifax in 1806.
Of this school there was an advertisement in the Halifax
Journal, Oct. 6, 1806, in which the principal stated when
the school would begin its first session, that the price of
tuition was twelve dollars per year, and that the princi-
pal would board four orderly, well bred boys in most ample
and genteel manner. This school seems not to have ex-
isted long, as a rival soon appeared on the scene.
In the Halifax Journal of January 12, 1807, there ap-
peared the following notice: "A school will be opened on
Monday the 12th inst. in the town of Halifax for the re-
ception of students, where will be taught the Latin and
English grammatically, together with writing, arithmetic,
the mathematics, geography, and the use of the globe.
All persons interested in promoting a good school in this
neighborhood are requested to meet at Mr. Hopkins' tav-
ern on the 24th inst., in order to appoint managers to
superintend this institution and to settle on terms of tui-
tion &c." This notice was signed by Robert Fenner.
Richard H. Long, and W. W. Jones.
INTELLECTUAL DEVELOPMENT 77
About the year 1810, Vine Hill Academy was organized
in Scotland Neck. In the same paper of date 1811, there
is a notice setting forth the fact that the trustees have
secured as principal Mr. Daniel Adams of Stratford,
Conn., "who has for two years been principal of a very
respectable school there, and will now teach the learned
languages and the various branches preparatory for a
college education." The notice that "it is hoped from
the great respectability of his character, his experience
and success, that this institution will receive the patron-
age and support its infant state so much requires." This
school continued as an important factor in the intellec-
tual life of Scotland Neck for nearly a hundred years.
From its establishment in 1815 to 1821, there are fre-
quent notices, in the press of that day, of Union Academy,
which was located in the town of Halifax. This institu-
tion was in charge of William E. Webb, with Jesse N.
Falcon as president of the Board of Trustees. Webb ap-
pears to have been a man of some ability and influence,
for he represented the County in the General Assem-
bly three times before he became Principal of Union
Farmwell Grove Academy, somewhere in the Aurelian
Springs section, was established in 1820, and flourished
until 1837. In "The Star" of June 21st, 1837, appears a
well written report of the examination exercises of this
school. Special mention is made of the address of Rev.
S. J. Harris, in which was enforced the all-important
point, that of the moral necessity of uniting religion and
literature in order to insure the grand result of usefulness
and happiness. This writer signs his name, "Spectator,"
and claims to have no interest in Farmwell Academy,
other than philanthropy and a love of education.
In the Raleigh Register of December 30, 1823, there is
a notice of Enfield Academy in charge of Mr. Philip B.
Wiley, of Newbern, and again in "The Star" of December
4, 1828, when Thomas L. Ragsdale was principal and Gov-
ernor John Branch was president of the Board of Trus-
78 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
tees. This school advertised that board at five dollars a
month could be obtained in families convenient to the
academy, "which occupies a high and healthful site re-
mote from all scenes of dissipation."
In 1828, a Mrs. Philips announced in the newspapers of
the day that the first session of her academy for young
ladies at Hyde Park closed on December 2nd by an exami-
nation, which was attended by a numerous assemblage
of the ladies and gentlemen of the vicinity. She claimed
in the announcement, that all the branches taught in the
best seminaries, with many ornamental accomplishments,
would be given in her school, including needlework and
embroidery, drawing, painting, and music on the piano,
all for the price of $80 for ten months. She also stated
that the school was fourteen miles west of Halifax on the
direct road to Warrenton, that it was remote from all
scenes of dissipation and extravagance, had pure air and
water, and a neighborhood society, which for urbanity of
manners is inferior to none in the country.
Also advertised in "The Star" and the Raleigh Register,
there are three other female schools, namely, the Scotland
Neck Female Academy, La Vallie Female Seminary, and
Mrs. E. C. Grant's Female Boarding School. One of these
was on the road from Halifax to Warrenton, and was
originally, perhaps, the school at Hyde Park already men-
tioned. Mrs. Grant's School was located a few miles from
Enfield at the place called Shell Castle, which continued
as a boarding school for young ladies until after the Civil
War. The La Vallie School included in its Board of Trus-
tees David Outlaw, of Bertie, Samuel Arrington, of Nash,
J. J. Daniel, formerly of Halifax, but at that time living
in Raleigh as a member of the Supreme Court of North
Carolina, Isaac Williams, Rev. S. Willis and Mason L. Wig-
gins, of Halifax. The president of this school was Tippo
A few years prior to the Civil War, Mr. Richard Parker
conducted a select boarding school for young ladies at his
home near Smith's Church about five miles from Weldon.
INTELLECTUAL DEVELOPMENT 79
Mr. Parker was a member of the County, or "Old Field,"
Court, as it was called, held many public offices, and was
guardian for quite a number of wealthy young ladies. This
last fact was perhaps the explanation of the origin of this
school, as, in this way, his wards were under his personal
supervision and enjoyed the privileges of a hospitable
In all these schools, the fact is emphasized that accom-
plished teachers from the North were employed and that
much attention was given to "manners" and deportment,
and that pupils from those schools went out to adorn
many high places in this and other States.
About 1840, the system of "Free Schools" was intro-
duced in the county, but they were conducted in a desul-
tory manner and very little good resulted from them. A
maximum salary of $30 a month was paid teachers, and
very inferior instruction was given in a one-roomed house
with more than fifty pupils of all ages and grades. Still
the foundations laid with the "Blue Back" speller in those
log schoolhouses with backless seats has caused many
an ambitious youth and maiden to win excellence in other
halls of learning. They have, therefore, done a work that
will stand for all time.
It was not the purpose of this chapter to give a com-
plete account of the educational activities of the county,
but merely to give some facts that will give the reader an
idea of educational conditions from the earliest times to
the outbreak of the War between the States in 1861.
Since the close of that struggle, the system of public
schools has been greatly improved until there is now not
a corner of the county that is without excellent school
SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.
Halifax County, and particularly Halifax town, was for
a number of years the political centre of North Carolina.
The ancient borough was in reality the Capital of the
State during and soon after the Revolution. There, many
of the officers of the Commonwealth lived much of the
time, and there, most of the records of state were kept.
Of course, when the seat of government was removed to
Raleigh, everything pertaining to State affairs was trans-
ferred to that place. Halifax, therefore, lost much of its
influence. Even after that, however, the town was a cen-
tre from which radiated social, literary, and economic
forces that were felt in remote portions of the State.
One of the most potent of these influences was that of
the press. In those early days of newspaperdom, the
weekly paper had more power among its readers than the
metropolitan daily had at a much later date. Its columns
were eagerly scanned by an interested constituency and
its statements ordinarily went unchallenged. Without
telegraphic dispatches, or quick mail facilities, the news-
paper of the first half of the nineteenth century, especially
in Halifax County, was an unpretentious institution, but
comparatively of immense influence.
The first mention of a newspaper in the county was in
1784. James Iredell, who was afterwards United States
Supreme Court judge, was on a visit that year to the
home of Benjamin McCulloch, on Elk Marsh. In a letter
to his wife on March 28th, 1784, he says: "They have
begun to print a newspaper at Halifax, which is to be
continued weekly." This was doubtless, a venture of
Thomas Davis, who, at the time, enjoyed the distinction
of being public printer. There is a letter in the State
SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT 81
Records from Davis at Newbem to Governor Caswell ask-
ing the assistance of the State in getting his press moved
to Halifax. There is not a copy of this paper in existence,
so far as is known, and it is not by any means certain
as to how long it continued.
July 23, 1793, the initial number of the North Carolina
Journal was issued at Halifax, by Hodge and Wells. There
is a file of this newspaper in possession of the North Caro-
lina Historical Society, beginning with the issue of Janu-
ary 7, 1805, and ending March 2, 1807, edited and printed
by A. Hodge at $2,50 a year. The paper is eighteen inches
long and eleven inches wide, four page, four columns to
the page, without head rules, the paper and type being
fairly good. It had the largest circulation in the State
for many years, and probably discontinued its publication
about 1810, at the time under the editorial management
of Wright W. Batchelor.
There is no mention of further newspaper ventures in
Halifax until 1829, when the first issue of the Halifax
Minerva made its appearance on January 24th of that
year, edited and published by John Campbell. Its first
number is a folio, eighteen inches long and twelve inches
wide, and six columns to the page. In about one year,
Edmund B. Freeman purchased an interest in the plant
and became the editor, Campbell continuing to do the
mechanical work. The name was changed to the Roanoke
Advocate. There are four volumes of the Minerva and
Advocate in the possession of one of the sons of John
A feature of every number of these interesting papers
is the method of advertising. In every issue is seen an
advertisement for a runaway slave, accompanied by a
picture of the fugitive with a bundle of clothes in his
hand, or hanging from a stick across his shoulder. An-
other striking advertisement was that of cock fighting,
illustrating two of the feathered heroes in a death strug-
gle, and announcing the mains at a certain time and
place with the stakes, sometimes reaching the sum of
82 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
one thousand dollars. Those were the days before cock-
fighting was forbidden by statute.
As the town of Halifax was the main distributing point
for merchandise brought up the Roanoke by sailing ves-
sels, and later by steamboats, from Norfolk and interme-
diate points, each issue of these papers gave the names of
all vessels arriving and departing from the port of Hali-
fax since the previous issue.
From these papers, the information is derived that Hali-
fax County was, at that time, exporting flour and meat.
Large cargoes of those articles were sent down the river
to Norfolk at every sailing of a vessel. In addition to the
trade by the Roanoke, a large contingent of wagons and
carts carried wheat, tobacco, cotton, and other products
overland to Petersburg and Richmond. Hogs and cattle
were driven afoot and bartered for such merchandise as
was needed by the people of the county.
All public traveling was by means of stage coaches be-
fore the coming of the railroad. From Halifax there was
a tri-weekly fine to Raleigh, passing Enfield, Hilliardston,
and Nashville, in Nash County. The trip was made in a
day by leaving Halifax at 3 A. M. and arriving at Raleigh
at 10 P. M. From Enfield, another line of stage coaches
extended to Tarboro. There was also another from Hali-
fax to Warrenton in one direction and across the Roanoke
in another direction to Murf reesboro and Winton, branch-
ing off to the left in Northampton County to Petersburg
Not many accidents, or incidents even, are recorded of
travel in those primitive days. Only one has been handed
down as being serious enough to be remembered, and it
occurred on the Raleigh line. In 1831, while crossing Cul-
pepper bridge, the lead horse became frightened and un-
manageable, and precipitated the vehicle, with its occu-
pants, into Fishing Creek. One man was fatally injured
in this wreck.
Religiously, the people of the county were divided as now
into the several denominations. The Baptists and Episco-
SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT 83
palians were perhaps the first occupiers of the land. The
former had established a church and built a house of wor-
ship, the oldest in the county, on Kehukee Creek, a few
miles southeast of the town of Scotland Neck in 1742.
That old church was the scene of the schism in 1827, when
the Baptist denomination was disrupted over the ques-
tion of missions and secret societies. After the meeting
of the Kehukee Association of that year at Kehukee
Church, there were two distinct Baptist denominations in
the State, the Primitive Baptists, sometimes called "Hard-
shells," and the Missionary Baptists, who are now much
the larger body. Other Baptist Churches were built a
little later, in different parts of the County, among them
Conocanara and Antioch being perhaps the best known.
Among the earliest people, who settled on the Roanoke
river and Fishing Creek, there were quite a number of
Episcopalians. Rev. Thomas Burgess was the first minis-
ter of that denomination to reside in the county. He was
in charge of the Parish of Edgecombe, which became the
County of Halifax, before the two counties were separated.
At the session of the Colonial Assembly of 1760, the first
after Halifax had become a county, a bill was introduced
to confirm an agreement made between Burgess and the
wardens and vestry of the Parish of Edgecombe. The
bill set forth the fact that he had been employed under an
act of the Assembly, which had since been repealed, to
serve the parish during his natural life for 120 pounds a
year, and prayed that the agreement be confirmed.
Governor Dobbs stated, in a report to the Board of
Trade, that there were only six preachers of the estab-
lished Church (the Episcopal) in the province at that
time, of whom two were worthless, calling them by name,
and the other four, among whom was Burgess, were good
and competent men. This indirect testimony of the Gov-
ernor as to the sterling qualities of the first Episcopal
minister in the county is fully confirmed by tradition. His
remains lie buried in the old Conocanara churchyard.
In Halifax, the church in which Burgess officiated is
84 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
still standing. Although there are no records in exis-
tence to show when it was built, there is strong presump-
tion that it was erected a number of years before the out-
break of the Revolution, probably about 1760. In Scot-
land Neck, on the edge of old "Clarksville," is another
ancient Church of the Episcopal faith.
Soon after the formation of the county, another de-
nomination, the Methodists, began to make its influence
felt. John Wesley and George Whitefield had visited
North Carolina some years before and planted the seeds
of Methodism, which now began to flourish. Churches
of that faith were built in various sections of the county,
among the oldest being Ebenezer in the Aurelian Springs
neighborhood, Haywoods near Halifax, Bradfords near
Enfield, and the church in the town of Halifax.
In these early days the Methodist Church took a high
stand in the county. As was generally the case, the Meth-
odist Circuit Rider followed closely in the track of civil-
ization and in 1846 a church was organized in Weldon with
seven members. These were Mrs. W. T. Whitfield, Mrs.
Mary Allen, Capt. James Simmons, Mr. H. Wyatt and three
others whose names are unknown. Capt. Simmons, the
"Class Leader" for this little band, was Sheriff of the
County and was a man of such sterling integrity he was
elected without opposition as long as he would hold the
office. A small wooden building was erected on the banks
of the canal, in which to hold public services. This was
roughly built and rudely furnished, but was the only
church building in Weldon until 1874 when another and
better one was built by the same congregation.
People, in the early years of the nineteenth century,
especially in Halifax County, were particularly free from
the almost nerve racking complexities of the present.
Mail facilities were extremely limited, and until 1840,
when the first railroads in the county were built, if a com-
munity received mail three times a week it was considered
fortunate. Halifax was reached by a tri-weekly mail from
Petersburg, and by one with the same frequency from
SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT 85
Raleigh. The only postofRces that are known to have ex-
isted as early as 1830 are Halifax, Enfield, Scotland Neck,
Weldon, which was called Weldon's Place, Littleton, which
was called Little's Ordinary, Brinkleyville, Palmyra, and
Crowell's Cross Roads.
In the General Assembly of 1826, an act was passed in-
corporating the Roanoke Steamboat Company and author-
izing the incorporators, Andrew Joyner and Cadwallader
Jones, to build a steamboat to navigate the Roanoke river,
the Albermarle sound, and the James river. Their plan to
open a regular line of steamers from Halifax to Norfolk
did not rapidly mature ; for it was not until April 15, 1829,
that the first steamboat to navigate the Roanoke arrived
at Halifax. This was the rude steamer, Petersburg, in com-
mand of Captain McRae. After discharging freight at
Halifax, it proceeded to Weldon Place and returned the
next day, proceeding later to Norfolk.
This was the first trip ever made on the Roanoke by a
steamboat. Since that time, Weldon, Halifax, Scotland
Neck, Palmyra, and other points on the river have been
visited by steamers that connected the Roanoke farms
with Norfolk. After the introduction of the railroads,
however, the boat line on the river was gradually discon-
tinued above Hamilton in Martin County until now it is a
rare thing for a steamboat to visit Halifax.
COMING OF THE RAILROADS.
Tne early settlers who came to what is now Halifax
County were either the enlarging or spreading out of
the settlement of the first colonies of Virginia or adven-
turous spirits exploring the Roanoke River from the
sound to the falls, about one hundred miles, of a navi-
gable though dangerous stream of water.
This river, deep and turbulent, was impassable far-
ther on account of the many rocks embedded in the
stream and the tremendous falls over which the water
swept, and the only means of passage was the small
canoe or dugout then in general use.
At the point where the town of Halifax was built,
the river is broader and the banks not so steep, so the
trail was opened into a highway of travel, a ferry
across the river established and the nucleus of the town
The river to which the Indian had given the name of
"Roanoke" or "River of Death" has been found navi-
gable from the lower settlements on the sound up to
this point and was for many years the only means of
commercial transportation of any kind.
At certain seasons of the year, this river yielded an
enormous supply of fish of the very finest quality, es-
pecially the white shad and the striped bass, or rock-
fish, which annually leave the sound and larger wa-
ters to deposit their spawn amid the rocks in the falls
of the Roanoke. So fishing hamlets were established
on either side of the river to provide shelter for the
fishermen when not engaged in their dangerous though
One of these villages was called Blakely, and was at
COMING OF THE RAILROADS 87
a point about three miles below Weldon on the North-
ampton side and was the head of navigation for any
boat except the canoe or dugout. In the year 1832, a
railroad was built out from Petersburg, Va., into North
Carolina terminating at Blakely landing. The day of
the opening of this road was celebrated with great re-
joicing. The people came together for miles away and
entered into the exercises with interest and enthusiasm.
A dinner and speech making were then, as they often
are now, features of the occasion.
In 1834 another Railroad was built out from Norfolk,
Va., into North Carolina with its terminus on the
Northern side of the Roanoke just across from the
landing at the point now called Weldon. The land on
the South side of the river was the holding of a man of
importance whose name was Daniel Weldon. At this
time there were many prosperous and influential men
in this community, owning and cultivating large farms
of grain and fruit. These were the descendants of the
pioneer settlers, James Bradley, William Gary, Joshua
Jones, William Whitfield, Mark Petway, Samuel Wel-
don, and many others.
The cultivation of fruit was a popular industry and
apple orchards were fine assets for these early settlers.
Every man of importance cultivated orchards and made
quantities of genuine apple brandy. The dangerous
chemicals now used were then unknown and the pure
apple brandy was the product of these distilleries which
were owned and operated almost universally. And so
what is now the town of Weldon was then known as
Weldon's Orchard, or Weldon's Place and was the seat
of one of these primitive industries which were con-
sidered respectable and entirely moral. To illustrate
this, it is said that Henry Sledge, a prosperous man of
the county at this period and also a pious and devoted
Christian gentleman, when told by his pastor that it
was sinful to manufacture and use brandy, at once de-
stroyed his large and profitable orchard, by cutting
88 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
every tree to its roots, saying he would in this way re-
move the temptation to evil.
In the year 1835, Col. Andrew Joyner, who was elect-
ed to the State Senate this year and was re-elected to
the same position for sixteen years, was also elected
President of the "Roanoke Navigation Co.," an organi-
zation which had for its purpose the opening of a canal
from a place called Rock Landing on the river, nine
miles above Weldon, through which boats could pass
and so avoid the rocks and falls in the river and find
anchorage at Weldon's Orchard. A charter was pro-
cured, the canal became a reality and the orchard be-
came a junction of it and the two railroads, as well as
the transportation facilities of the river below the falls.
This canal was an important improvement at the
time, as, in addition to the railroads mentioned, one had
been built from Raleigh to Gaston in 1833, with its ter-
minus at a landing on the river. A large basin was
formed here and the boats from as far as Danville, Va.,
would bring the produce of the farms down the river
to Gaston and then through this canal to Weldon. The
Company which undertook this work did it thoroughly
and well. There are three locks in the canal, the ma-
sonry of which is very fine, as is that of the aqueduct
over Chockoyette near Weldon, and has stood without
repairs for three fourths of a century. A large basin was
formed just above the falls, at Weldon where the canal
empties into the river, for the purpose of moving the
boats which operated on the canal line.
A large brick warehouse was built near this basin,
in which an immense amount of tobacco and other pro-
duce were safely stored. This opening up of a new
method of transportation was of great importance to
the farmers along its line, as previous to this the only
means of marketing the tobacco was to convey it for
sixty miles or more in large hogsheads on wooden sleds
drawn by horses to Petersburg, Va.
Quite a group of buildings were erected as the out-
COMmG OF THE RAILROADS 89
come of this new enterprise. A man named Thomas H.
Wyatt built a large storehouse with a small tavern or
inn annexed on the corner of First and Sycamore
Streets and these were the first of their kind on the
ground. These stood until only a few years ago and
were mementoes of these early days. A larger hotel
was soon built by Mr. Michael Ferral and this was op-
erated for a number of years.
In the year 1833 a charter was granted to the Wil-
mington & Raleigh Railroad. This was changed to
Wilmington & Weldon, and in May, 1840, the first train
of cars ran through from Wilmington to Weldon with
William Hall as Conductor and G. G. Lynch as helper. Of
these young men, Captain Hall died very early, but Mr.
Lynch lived to a ripe old age. He was employed when
quite a young man as route agent or mail inspector for
the United States Government and was appointed to
the same office by Thomas H. Reagan, Postmaster-Gen-
eral in the Confederate Cabinet, which office he held
until the close of the War. When the War between the
States began, he held in his possession $250.00 in gold
which belonged to the United States Government.
Through all the terrible four years, he held this as a
sacred trust and at the close .of the war returned the
money to the Postoffice Department of the Government.
In 1855, the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad was ex-
tended from South Gaston to Weldon, thus making
that village the centre from which radiated four im-
portant lines of railways, one of them the W. & W.
being for many years the longest in the world. The
large shed, which has so often been associated with
Weldon, was built that year from under which the pas-
senger trains of the four roads left for their different
destinations, upon the ringing of a signal bell.
On the completion of the Wilmington & Weldon Rail-
road to Weldon, a bridge was built across the river and
a junction formed of this and the Seaboard and Roa-
noke Railroad. The terminus of the road from Peters-
90 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
burg was moved from Blakely to Weldon and a bridge
built for that line also. This was a wooden bridge and
was burnt in the year 1856, and not replaced until after
the Civil War, when a new steel structure was erected
on the old pillars about one mile below Weldon. This
was in use until Nov. 26, 1877, when both bridges were
washed away by the highest freshet ever known in the
Ftoanoke River. The Petersburg bridge was never re-
built, both roads using the Seaboard bridge.
In the political campaign of 1844, Henry Clay, one
of the Presidential candidates, came to Weldon on his
way to Raleigh to speak in the interests of his party
and to encourage and strengthen his constituents in the
State. He was met and entertained at dinner at the
Ferral hotel by Col. Joyner, the leading Whig of the
section, who took him to spend the night at his home at
Poplar Grove and accompanied him to Raleigh next
day. The important issue discussed at this time was the
annexation of Texas to the United States. Mr. Clay
was supposed to favor this bill pending in Congress
and his chances for election were considered good. In
this speech, however, he strongly antagonized the bill
and in the following election his opponent, James K.
Polk, was elected.
In the meantime Weldon's Orchard had become the
town of Weldon. Another and a larger hotel was built
and operated by W. T. Whitfield, who came to Weldon
in 1834, stores and business houses were multiplied,
and other enterprises engaged in. Among the promi-
nent men of this period were Dr. William Lunsford
Long, John ^J^ Cam pbeH, Hamlin and Elisha Allen,
James Simmons, and i5. Isl. Peterson.
A weekly newspaper of modest pretensions was
launched and flourished for some time. This was called
the Weldon Patriot and was founded by J. T. Gresham
and afterwards edited by Thomas L. Suiter. Two large
mills, one for wheat and the other for corn, were built
near the falls of the canal and were supplied with grain
COMING OF THE RAILROADS 91
from the neighboring farms, especially Mush Island,
the fertile and prolific lands of Col. Nicholas Long, which
at that time was called the Egypt of Halifax County.
Col. Joyner, besides being President of the Roanoke
Navigation Co., was President of the Seaboard & Roa-
noke Railroad. For many years he was a member of
the Senate of North Carolina and was promoter under
the influence of Dorothy Dix of the Bill to establish a
home at Raleigh for the Deaf, Dumb and Blind of the
State. His wife, a lady of culture and refinement and
wealth, was a veritable "Lady Bountiful," ministering
to both the souls and bodies of men, and their home at
Poplar Grove near what is now the City of Roanoke
Rapids was a general dispensary for the neighborhood.
Rev. Robert 0. Burton of the Virginia M. E. Confer-
ence married a daughter of Col. Joyner and was often
in charge of Roanoke Circuit, to which the Methodist
church at Weldon belonged.
"ROYAL WHITE HART LODGE."
One of the oldest and most famous institutions in the
county is the Masonic Lodge at Halifax. Because of
its historic importance a somewhat extended account
is given of the rise, progress, and spirit of this lodge.
The first meeting was held April 20, 1764, in the
home of David London, Halifax town. Province of
North Carolina. Halifax was then one of the most
important and flourishing towns in the State. It was
at the head of navigation and was the home of a great
many prominent people and statesmen. Here was held
the Provincial Congress and here was the first demon-
stration after the one in Philadelphia celebrating the
Declaration of Independence. Among its citizens was
Joseph Montford, an Englishman of noble lineage and a
Mason who was closely connected with this Lodge from
his arrival in Halifax until his death.
It seems that at that time there were two Masonic
lodges, but it is evident from its size and the amount
of its funds that this one had been in existence for
some years. From 1764 to 1772 and again from 1783
to the present time there is an unbroken record of
these meetings. But it is a matter of regret that all
records are missing from 1772 to 1783. It is believed
that these records were carried home (for safekeep-
ing during the Revolutionary period) by one of the
members and they were lost to history. Diligent search
continues to be made for them in the old homes in Eastern
On May 20, 1768, an important meeting of this
Lodge was held in which the Worshipful Master pro-
duced a Charter from the Grand Master of England, to
ROYAL WHITE HART LODGE 93
wit: "Henry Somerset, Duke of Beaufort, Grand Mas-
ter of Masons in England, appointing Joseph Mont-
ford, Master; Joseph Long, Senior Warden, and Nathen
Brown, Jr., Warden — a regular constituted lodge of
free and accepted Masons by the name of Royal Hart
Lodge, town of Halifax, Province of N. C." This char-
ter was dated London, March 21, A. L. 5767, the same
being No. 403 in the list of English Lodges.
It was unanimously and gratefully received and the
Secretary was ordered to write a letter to the Grand
Lodge of England returning thanks for the honor
which the Grand Master had been pleased to confer on
It is noticeable that the minutes of all their meetings
were signed by the Worshipful Master, and the ut-
most care was taken in their preparation. That these
earnest men took masonry very seriously is evinced by
the By-laws in which we read "To laugh in Lodge, fine
five shillings. To whisper in Lodge, fine five shillings."
In April, 1769, a meeting was held at which it was re-
solved to build a Masonic Temple and the following is
a part of the interesting minutes: —
"Whereas we, the subscribers esteem it publicly bene-
ficial to promote society, to laudably increase the means
of obtaining benefit and happiness to those whom we
are most nearly connected, and Whereas it is proposed
and agreed to improve a lot in the town of Halifax, to
wit: No. Ill so that the accommodation thereon may
serve for various purposes, particularly that of a Ma-
sonic Hall and Assembly room; — We therefore, obli-
gate ourselves, our heirs, executors and Administra-
tors respectively to pay or cause to be paid the sum an-
nexed to our respective names and for the purpose of im-
proving the said lot, etc."
Joseph Montford — one bouse and lot (deed executed).
Joseph O. Long, ten pounds
Frederick Schulzer, ten pounds
94 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
John Thompson ten pounds
Alexander Telfair, ten pounds
James Milner, ten pounds
Charles Preston, five pounds
William Martin, five pounds
F. Stewart, ten pounds
David Stokes, five pounds
James Auld, three pounds
Peter Thompson, five pounds
Joseph Campbell, five pounds
The house and lot donated by Joseph Montford at that
date was worth $1,500.00, making the whole amount
This was indeed an enormous amount for these poor
colonists, but it showed their intense devotion to the
cause of Masonry. It is a noticeable fact that "Paid"
was written after each amount promised.
This temple was built and was a very imposing and
rather elegant building for that day and time. It was
situated in a large oak grove facing the public road. It
was 30 X 30 feet, two stories. The lodge room was on
the second floor, and the lower story was used for a pub-
lic school — although the last day of school in this build-
ing was in 1829.
A description of the temple written in 1820 is inter-
esting. "The roof was slate color, the building was white
with green blinds, mahogany doors, red brick founda-
tion and chimney. The ceiling which is arched, is blue
and the interior woodwork is white."
The beautiful silver candlesticks still used by this
Lodge were purchased Feb. 26, 1784, and cost 11 pounds-
The unique and handsome chair (with its approaching
steps) was bought May 20, 1765. It is supposed these
came from England. Visiting Masons say that the bal-
lot-box is the finest they have ever seen tho' it is not so
old as the other pieces, having been bought April 1, 1820.
On March 10, 1772, Joseph Montford presented the
ROYAL WHITE HART LODGE 95
lodge with a beautiful Masonic chart, painted on heavy
cloth and to this day it is in a fine state of preservation.
A few^ days later — March 13, 1772, a meeting of special
interest was held — The following quotation is from the
records : "Bro. Joseph Montford produced a charter from
the Grand Master of England — the Duke of Beaufort —
appointing him Provincial Grand Master of and for
America — which was recognized, and for which he was
congratulated by the lodge and offered the chair, which
For the third time we see this notable figure in this
grand old lodge. First, with the charter from the Grand
Lodge of England ; second, generously giving to the Roy-
al White Hart Lodge a house and lot towards the erec-
tion of a Masonic Temple; and now presenting his ap-
pointment as Provincial Grand Master of America — and
in his modesty declining even a seat in the East. Thus
we see that a history however brief it may be cannot be
written without the name of the most prominent Mason
in America at that time, viz: — the Hon. Joseph Mont-
He was also the first Clerk of the Court for Halifax
County, Treasurer of the Province of North Carolina,
Colonel of Colonial Troops and delegate to the Provin-
cial Congress, not mentioning the father of two brilliant
and beautiful daughters who became the wives of two
of North Carolina's most distinguished statesmen, viz : —
The Bon. Willie Jones and the Hon. John Baptista Ashe.
It is true that that Grand Lodge of England, which
was organized in 1717, had, before this time, appoint-
ed other Provincial Grand Masters in America — but
their authority was limited to their Province or territory,
and they in turn were subject to the Provincial Grand
Master for Foreign Lodges at London, who was the ap-
pointee of the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of
England. But the authority vested in Joseph Montford
was absolute and supreme in all parts of America, and
he established lodges and chapters at his will and pleas-
96 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
ure, thereby attaining the highest masonic position ever
held by any man on this continent. There are several
reasons why he was selected to this high honor: his so-
cial and political prominence, the exactness and faithful-
ness that characterized everything that he attempted,
his prompt and regular remittances to the Grand Lodge
of England, and his idea of building a Masonic Temple
which (at that time) was absolutely new in both Eng-
land and America. This especially made a deep im-
pression upon the Grand Lodge of England, and it un-
doubtedly inspired them to build "Free Mason's Hall" in
London, for they began immediately to raise funds for
this purpose and four years later this magnificent struc-
ture was completed. The contribution of "10 pounds 10
shillings from Joseph Montford — R. W. H. Lodge Hali-
fax — Province N. C.," was the largest amount subscribed.
Benjamin Franklin and his associates erected Free
Masons' Lodge in Philadelphia about this time, which
was the first Masonic Temple in this country and also in
the world, and the temple in Halifax (now standing in
its somber dignity) was the second.
Up to this time it was customary for Masons to meet
in Taverns or homes. Even the Grand Lodge of England
was holding its meetings at the "Crown and Anchor in
the Strand" (London), and the Royal White Hart Lodge
met at "Bro. Martin's Tavern at the sign of the Thistle."
After 1790 the Lodge became very prosperous. The
members paid $5.00 per pair for gloves, $10.00 a plate
for banquets and gave $25.00 a month as pensions to
needy widows. Surely they never dreamed of the
abandonment of the river traflfic, the decline of the town
and lodge and the decay of their beloved temple. It is
the cherished hope of the Masons to restore the temple
as it was in the heyday of its glory.
Joseph Montford died March, 1776, in the early stage
of the Revolutionary War, and was buried in the old Co-
lonial churchyard where he had so often marshaled his
lodge in a body for worship. We notice that the word
ROYAL WHITE HART LODGE 97
"Hart" is spelled in the old Records Heart until the ar-
rival of the charter from England. In this charter this
word is spelled "Hart" and from that time, all records
conform to this spelling.
There are many amusing instances recorded in the old
records. At one of the early meetings a Committee of
one was appointed to furnish "1 gal. of brandy, 1 gal.
of rum, 1 gal. of gin, 1 cheese, 1 baked ham and some
crackers the same to be charged to the candidate for the
night." Surely these brothers were in a hilarious (or
sad) state of mind before the night ended. Tho' it is
recorded that the members of this lodge were deeply re-
ligious, "observing feast days regularly and attending
church on Sundays in a body." Copies of the sermons
preached to them were carefully preserved. Marshall
Delancy Hayward in his splendid work, "The Beginning
of Free Masonry in North Carolina and Tennessee,"
records the lives of the members of this Grand Lodge
and the great service they rendered the American cause
during the Revolutionary War. It was the custom of
Joseph Montford on the feast days of St. John to as-
semble his lodge in the temple at five o'clock before sun-
rise. He would open the Lodge until he came to the
"Master's Station" v/hen the opening stopped and a
brother who was stationed at the East window would
signal the first appearance of the Orb of Day — and at
that instant rose also the only Provincial Grand Master
that America ever had — to open and govern the only
Provincial Grand Lodge that ever existed in America.
The oldest Lodge in this country is St. Johns No. 1 Bos-
ton. The second oldest is Solomon's No. 1 at~Sft^?armiah,
The charters issued by the Provincial Grand Lodge of
America are the most beautiful and expensive Masonic
Documents on this Continent. One of the finest speci- / -^
mens of this work is the charter issued to St. John Lodge
in Newbern. It is as perfect as when it was proudly
received by the Lodge 136 years ago. The second char- /
... • "--/
98 HISTORY (>F HVl IK.W CXH^NTY
ter of Koyal White ilnrt Lodirv^ under which it works
today was issued by the C^rand Lodge of North Caro-
lina. Dtv, 27. ISOO. Koyal White Hart Lod^re retained
itii Kuirlish alle>rianee thirteen years after its sister
lodges were working under the errand Lodge of Nortl\
Carolina, btvause it paid ten pounds for a charter giv-
ing it No. 1. After the Crand Lodge received the money,
they changed their mind and wrote out another charter
giving it No. '2. For years there was much bitter feel-
ing in regard to this matter, but the lodge is well
launched on its second century of faithful allegiance to
the Crand Lodge of North Carolina, but this is men-
tioned merely as historic truth. It was incorporated in
CHA PTEK TWENTY-Tif RKK.
EVENTH LKADING TO 7 ilh CIVIL WAR.
For thirty yf^arn pn-jj-Ainic thf; outbr^^ak of tho Civil
War, Halifax County had more influence in national af-
fai rH than any other county in North Carolina. The only
time the county ever had a Unit/^d Stat^iH Kenator and
a member of the PreHident'B cabinet w^as during that
period. .John branch, of Pinfield, was elected senator in
182.'i and re-elected in 1829. He, however, resigned the
latU^r year t^j accept the position of Secretary of the
Navy in President .Jacknon's Cabinet. Tv/o years later,
he resigned that position, also, because of the disruption
of the cabinet on account of some social disagreements
of the wives of the members.
Branch returned to Enfield in 18'il, and was the next
year elecUid to Congress. He served only one term when
he was succeeded by Jesse A. Bynum, of Halifax, who
continued in office until 1841, when he in turn was suc-
ceeded by another Halifax County man, John R. J.
Daniel. Halifax County was, at the time, in the Sixth
Congressional District, the other counties being Wake,
Franklin, Warren, Edgecombe, Nash and Johnston.
Daniel had been Attorney-General of the State, but was
now elevated to a seat in Congress, where que.stions of
great national importance were being discussed.
Not only in national affairs did the county wield in-
fluence during this period, but the affairs of State felt
its energizing effect also. Spier Whitaker, of Enfield, was
elected Attorney-General in 1842, holding that respon-
sible position until 1847. Jjartholornev/ I'\ Moore was
chosen to the same post in 1848, and removed from his
home in Halifax to Raleigh the same year. Joseph J.
Daniel, of Halifax, was elevated from the Superior
100 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
Court to the Supreme Bench in 1832 and held the posi-
tion until his death in 1848. During this period, there-
fore, the county was well represented in the councils of
both State and nation.
.Between 1840 and 1860, the county, along with the
State and nation, passed through a crucial period lead-
ing up to the great climax of 1861. The question of
slavery was to the fore, and the people of Halifax Coun-
ty were watching the trend of sentiment in the north with
no little degree of uneasiness. The National Congress had
been drawn into the discussion, first by the proposition to
abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, second by the
annexation of territory, and also by the passage of the
Fugitive Slave Act. Some of the most brilliant men in the
United States were arrayed on one side or the other of
this absorbing question.
In 1840, according to the Federal Census taken that
year, the county had a population of 24,325, of whom
16,865 were negro slaves. It is strange to note that when
the census of 1850 was taken, the population had de-
creased to 16,584, nearly the whole of the decrease being
in the slave population, which dropped to 8954, nearly
fifty per cent. No reason is assigned for this remarkable
decrease. There is no record of any unusual sale of ne-
groes to the States farther South, nor any plague to re-
duce the number by death. Probably the most plausible
conclusion is that a mistake was made by the census
enumerators either in 1840 or 1850. The census of 1860
showed an increase over that of 1850 of about 3000.
From 1846 to 1848, the United States was at war with
Mexico. In North Carolina and Halifax County, the war
was unpopular because it was considered an unworthy at-
tempt on the part of our Government to bully a weak
neighbor. The State raised and equipped two regiments
for the war, one commanded by Colonel Robert Treat
Paine, of Elizabeth City, and the other by Colonel L. B.
Wilson, of Tarboro. Halifax County furnished no sol-
diers for either regiment. The result of the war brought
EVENTS LEADING TO CIVIL WAR 101
new problems in the way of new territory to increase the
tension over the slavery question.
Some ten years before that time, the country v/as
thrown into violent excitement over the Nat Turner in-
surrection in Southampton County, Va. Turner was a
slave, who incited the negroes of his neighborhood to rise
against their masters, and, with himself at their head,
they slaughtered a number of men, women, and children
before the rebellion could be checked. Turner was final-
ly overpowered, captured with a number of his deluded
followers, given a trial, and hanged.
During that period of excitement, the people of Halifax
County were in a state of wild suspense. It was not
knov/n how far the conspiracy among the slaves extend-
ed, and many rumors of similar risings in the county were
current. None of these rumors, however, had foundation ;
and when the Southampton insurrection collapsed, there
was no further fear.
Another insurrection that produced intense distrust
and alarm was the John Brown raid in 1859. Halifax
County was a unit in condemnation of such efforts on the
part of the abolitionists. There were, it is true, in the
county many who believed in a gradual emancipation of
the negro race from bondage ; but such acts as the John
Brown raid and the Nat Turner insurrection solidified
sentiment against the agitators. After Brown and his fol-
lowers were captured at Harpers Ferry, Va., given a
trial, convicted, and hanged, sentiment in the county was
well nigh unanimous that the abolitionists of the North,
by their agitation and indiscreet utterances about the
slavery question, had brought the country to the verge of
IN THE LEGISLATIVE HALLS OF THE STATE.
Before following in the wake of the part Halifax County
took in the tremendous cataclysm of the War between the
States, a retrospective view of the part taken by her sons
in the State's legislative halls will be interesting. From
the first, the county sent to the General Assembly some of
her best men. Among them are many names that are
familiar and honorable in the county. Some of them
reached great prominence in State and Nation. The fol-
lowing list is of interest to every native of Halifax Coun-
ty. They were the representatives from the adoption of
the Constitution in 1776 to the outbreak of the war in
Year House of Commons
1777 Willie Jones
1778 Willie Jones
1779 Henry Montford
1780 Henry Montford
1781 Henry Montford
1782 Henry Montford
1783 Henry Montford
1784 Henry Montford
1785 Charles Pasteur
1786 Wm. R. Davie
1787 Wm. R. Davie
1788 Goodrum Davis
1789 Wm. R. Davie
1790 Wm. R. Davie
1791 Wm. R. Davie
1792 Richard H. Long
1793 Wm. R. Davie
1794 Wm. R. Davie
1795 John B. Ashe
1796 Wm. R. Davie
1797 Thaddeus Barnes
1798 Wm. R. Davie
1799 Richard H. Long
1800 Richard H. Long
1801 Isaac Hilliard
1802 Basset Stith
1803 William Drew
1804 Thomas Hall
1805 Allen Gilchrist
House of Commons
Allen J. Davie
Joseph J. Daniel
William P. Hall
Holcott J. Pride
Joseph J. Daniel
Hutchings G. Burton
Robert A. Jones
Jesse A. Bynum
Jesse A. Bynum
Jesse A. Bynum
Jesse A. Bynum
Wm. L. Long
Wm. L. Long
Wm. L. Long
Wm. L. Long
Wm. L. Long
Robert C. Bond
LEGISLATIVE HALLS OF THE STATE 103
By the Constitution of 1835, borough towns were abol-
ished. Halifax town was, therefore, no longer entitled to
a representative in the General Assembly. It will be ob-
served that a considerable number of these men, who rep-
resented the town in the legislative body of the State, had
already achieved a State and national reputation. Willie
Jones was a national figure, though he held few positions
of trust under the Federal government. William R. Davie,
John B. Ashe, and Jesse A. Bynum, at different times,
held positions of trust at the National Capitol. Hutchings
G. Burton was afterwards Governor of the State. Wil-
liam Drew was Attorney-General for nine years. Joseph J.
Daniel was afterwards on the Supreme Court bench for
In the list of members in the General Assembly for
Halifax town, from which the above is taken, there is a
note at the year 1825, which gives the following informa-
tion : "No member was elected this year in consequence
of the election having been broken up by a brawl between
the contending candidates. Potter and Bynum, and their
friends." It is known that Jesse A. Bynum and Robert
Potter were on unfriendly terms because Bynum refused
to introduce Potter to a certain lady. In 1825, they were
contending candidates, and so bitter were the passions
aroused between the candidates and their friends that on
election day a fight ensued, in which one man was killed
and a number bruised and disfigured. As all the election
judges and poll holders participated in the fight, on one
side or the other, no election could be held, and the town,
therefore, had no representative that year.
Year Senate House of Commons
1777 John Bradford Jos. John Williams, Egbert Haywood
1778 Orondates Davis Egbert Haywood, John Whitaker
1779 Orondates Davis Willie Jones, Augustine Willis
1780 Orondates Davis Willie Jones, William Weldon
1781 Orondates Davis John Branch, Benjamin McCulloch
1782 Willie Jones John Branch, Benjamin McCulloch
HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
John B. Ashe
Stephen W. Carney
Stephen W. Carney-
Stephen W. Carney
Stephen W. Carney
Stephen W. Carney
Stephen W. Carney
Joseph John Alston
Matthew C. Whitaker
Matthew C. Whitaker
Matthew C. Whitaker
Matthew C. Whitaker
Matthew C. Whitaker
House of Commons
John Whitaker, John Geddy
Benjamin McCulloch, John B Ashe
John Whitaker, John B. Ashe
John B. Ashe, Augustine Willis
John Dawson, John Branch
John Jones, John Branch
Peter Quarles, Marmaduke Norfleet
John Dawson, Willis Alston
Wilhs Alston. Thomas Tabb
Willis Alston, Eaton Pugh
Stephen W. Carney, James A. Tabb
Eaton Pugh, John A. Tabb
Eaton Pugh, Stephen W. Carney
John A. Tabb, Eaton Pugh
Wood J. Hamblin, James A. Tabb
Sterling HarweU, M. C. Whitaker
Sterling Harwell, Wood J. Hamblin
ll^iy n- Whitaker, Sterling Harwell
Mat w C. Whitaker, Sterling HarAvell
li^l'^ n St?^^^^^' Sterling Harwell
w-n"^ ^-Whitaker, Sterling Harwell
William Williams, M. C Whitaker
William Williams, M. C Whitaker
Wi ham Williams, M. C Whitaker
William Williams, Daniel Mason
William Williams, Lewis Daniel
VVm. E. Webb, Joseph Bryant
Wm. E. Webb, Benjamin Edmonds
Wm. E. Webb, J. J. Daniel
Wm. E. Webb, J. J. Daniel
James Barnes, W. J. Hamblin
J. Grant, R. Jones
Richard Jones, Wilson W. Carter
Richard Jones, Jesse A. Dawson
Richard Jones, Jesse A. Dawson
Jesse A. Dawson, Neville Gee
Richard Jones, Willis Alston
Wi IS Alston, Jesse A. Dawson
Uilhs Alston, Jesse A. Dawson
f^.M,^''*.4- Jones, Isham Matthews
Wi hs Alston, Robert A. Jones
VVilhs Alston, R. B. Daniel
Geo. E. Spruill, R. B. Daniel
Geo. E. Spruill, Anthony A. Wyche
Geo. E. Spruill, Wm. E. Shine
Geo. E. Spruill, Rice B. Pierce
Jesse A. Bynum, Thomas Nicholson
Jesse A. Bynum, Thomas Nicholson
Thomas Nicholson, John R. J. Daniel
Charles Gee, John R. J. Daniel
LEGISLATIVE HALLS OF THE STATE 105
Year Senate House of Commons
1833 Isham Matthews Wm. M. West, John R. J. Daniel
1834 John Branch Wm. L. Long, John R. J. Daniel
1835 Andrew Joyner Sterling H. Gee, Wm. M. West
1836 Andrew Joyner I. Matthews, S. H. Gee, B. F, Moore
1838 Andrew Joyner W. W. Daniel, M. A. Wilcox, S. Wh't'kr
1840 Andrew Joyner S. H. Gee, B. A. Pope, B. F. Moore
1842 Andrew Joyner S. H. Gee, B. A. Pope, B. F. Moore
1844 Andrew Joyner S. H. Gee, B. F. Moore
1846 Andrew Joyner L. M. Long, M. C. Whitaker
1848 Andrew Joyner Wm. L. Long, Richard H. Smith
1850 Andrew Joyner W. B. Pope, Dudley C. Clanton
1852 Andrew Joyner Richard H. Smith, James D. Perkins
1854 M. L. Wiggins Richard H. Smith, James D. Perkins
1856 M. L. Wiggins William Hill, John W. Johnson
1858 Matthew C. Whitaker William Hill, William L. Long
1860 Matthew C. Whitaker Archibald H. Davis, W. B. Pope
Many of these men took high rank in the affairs of the
State and the United States. Orondates Davis, in 1780,
was chosen to serve on the Board of War for North Caro-
lina. The other members were Alexander Martin, who
afterwards became governor, and John Penn, one of the
signers of the Declaration of Independence. Willis Alston
was a member of Congress from 1799 to 1815 and again
from 1826 to 1831. John Branch was a member of Con-
gress for a long time, both in the Senate and the lower
house. Governor of North Carolina, Secretary of the Navy
in President Jackson's cabinet, and later Governor of the
Territory of Florida. John R. J. Daniel was Attorney-
General of the State and later member of Congress for
twelve years. Spier Whitaker, and B. F. Moore were, at
different times, Attorney-General of North Carolina. Per-
haps no county can show an abler list of representatives
in the General Assembly of North Carolina.
THE CALL TO ARMS.
The year 1860 was ominous. Mutterings of the coming
storm were clear and distinct. National politics had be-
come a national problem. The Whigs had disbanded. The
Democrats were divided into factions. The Abolitionists
had united with the disorganized elements of Whigs,
Know-Nothings, Free-Soilers, and other political frag-
ments until there was now in the northern states a com-
pact, well organized party, determined to destroy the in-
stitution lof slavery at any cost.
Early in the year the political pot began to boil. John
C. Breckinridge, of Kentucky, was nominated for Presi-
dent by one faction of the Demiocratic party, and Stephen
A. Douglas, of Illinois, was nominated by the other. The
Abolitionists, novv^ called Republicans, nominated Abra-
ham Lincoln, of Illinois. The campaign was bitter and
personal. Lincoln was elected by a big majority in the
electoral college, but by a distinct minority vote. He re-
ceived not a single vote in Halifax County.
As soon as it was known that Lincoln had been elected,
the Legislature of South Carolina called a convention to
consider the proposition of seceding from the union. The
convention met, and, on December 20th, unanimously
passed the ordinance of secession. The example of South
Carolina was rapidly followed by Alabama, Mississippi,
Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, and Texas. Early in Febru-
ary, the seven States met in convention at Montgomery,
Ala., and elected Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, Presi-
dent of the Southern Confederacy, and Alexander H.
Stephens of Georgia, Vice-President.
North Carolina had as yet taken no official step in these
rapidly happening events. Near the beginning of Febru-
THE CALL TO ARMS 107
ary, however, the General Assembly passed an act sub-
mitting the question of calling a convention to the people.
The election, for or against calling a convention and for
electing delegates, was held February 28th, and, by a sub-
stantial majority, the call for the convention was defeat-
ed. The vote in Halifax County was significant. For the
convention the county registered a vote of 1,049, and
against the convention 39. The county, however, selected
two union men as representatives. The State, as a whole,
elected an overwhelming majority of union men, and if
the convention had met before the capture of Fort Sum-
ter, North Carolina would probably have remained in the
An evil time was just ahead. Lincoln was inaugurated
on March 4th, 1861, and declared, in his inaugural ad-
dress, his purpose to collect custom duties at all southern
ports. That declaration, 'of course, meant war. He, at
once, dispatched reinforcements to Fort Sumter in
Charleston harbor. The Confederate forces there fired
upon the Federal ships and demanded the surrender of
Fort Sumter. Upon the demand being refused, the bom-
bardment of Sumter began ; and, on April 12th, the fort
Immediately a thrill shot through the nation. President
Lincoln called for 75,000 volunters to put down the "re-
bellion" in the South. Governor Ellis refused to send
North Carolina's quota in response to this call, and thus
placed the State in direct conflict with the United States
Grovernment, The General Assembly was, at once, called
in extra session, Halifax County's representatives that
year were Matthew C, Whitaker in the Senate and Archi-
bald H, Davis and W. B. Pope in the house. With other
representatives, they voted to call a convention to meet in
Raleigh, May 20th, 1861, The call was submitted to the
people and carried almost unanimously. Halifax County
sent Richard H, Smith, of Scotland Neck, and Dr. Charles
J. Gee, of Weldon, as her representatives.
When the convention met -on May 20, there was no other
108 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
thought than secession. A majority of the delegates were
union men, but in the crisis that had come there could be
no other solution than secession and war. The vote was
taken on May 20, almost in silence. The two representa-
tives from Halifax, along with the others, recorded their
votes in favor of severing the political bonds that bound
the states together. The vote for secession was unani-
Fior more than a month before the convention met, the
feeling in the State was general that war was inevitable.
In fact. Governor Ellis, anticipating the action of the con-
vention, had authorized the mobilizing of the militia.
Thousands of men volunteered within three days after the
fall of Fort Sumter, and even before the State authori-
ties were ready for them.
Among the first companies in the State to volunteer
was the "Enfield Blues," a company composed of 109 men
rank and file. The officers of the company were D. B. Bell,
Captain ; M. T. Whitaker, First Lieutenant ; F. M. Parker,
Second Lieutenant; Carey W. Whitaker, Junior Second
Lieutenant. At Raleigh on April 17, 1861, along with
other companies from various points in the State, the
"Enfield Blues" were enrolled in what was afterwards
known as the Bethel Regiment under the command of
Colonel D. H. Hill.
After remaining in camp at Raleigh for a few weeks,
the regiment was ordered to Virginia, and, passing
through Richmond, marched up Main Street, receiving
an ovation fVom the populace. As this regiment was the
first from the State and the Enfield Blues the first com-
pany from Halifax County, it will not be improper, before
mentioning other companies and other Halifax County
men, to follow briefly the military fortunes of this her<oic
body of men, who risked life, fortune, and honor in a
cause they thought right.
From Richmond, the regiment was ordered to join Gen-
eral Magruder, who was stationed near Yorktown, Va.,
and who was directed to check the advance of the Feder-
THE CALL TO ARMS 109
als from Fort Monroe. Hill was ordered to take position
at Bethel Church, where, on June 10, he was attacked by
a superior force under the command of General Pierce. In
the battle which followed, the Enfield Blues, under the
command of Lieutenant Parker, was stationed on the
right wing and did splendid service. They aided in re-
pelling the attacks of the enemy and in driving him from
the field. Not a man of the company received a scratch
in this remarkable conflict, in which about one hundred
of the Federals were killed or wounded and only one, on
the side of the South, killed and a few slightly wounded.
After the Battle of Bethel, the regiment was disrupted
and the elements distributed through other commands.
Captain Bell resigned August 31, 1861, and Lieutenant F.
M. Parker succeeded him, Carey W. Whitaker succeeding
to the position of Second Lieutenant and Carr B. Corbett
becoming Junior Lieutenant. On October 16, same year,
Captain Parker was elected Colonel of the Thirtieth Regi-
ment, and, therefore, severed his connection with the En-
field Blues. Lieutenant M. T. Whitaker became Captain
upon the resignation of Colonel Parker. Another m.ember
of the company. Spier Whitaker, was later made adju-
tant of the Thirty-third Regiment.
Through the vicissitudes of war the company passed,
losing in battle and by disease, recruiting and diminish-
ing, until at the last sad drama, at Appomattox, only three
of the original company, that fought at Bethel, were left,
John Beavens, J. S. Whitaker and Spier Whitaker. Dur-
ing the years between Bethel and Appomattox, many a
deed of heroism and many a noble sacrifice were made;
but history cannot throw a bouquet nor record a tear.
During the spring and summer of 1861, North Carolina
equipped and sent to the battle front in Virginia and
Tennessee more than fifty thousand men. Regiments were
organized at various points in the State, and camps of in-
struction in the school of the soldier were busy centers of
Halifax County was not behind in furnishing the flow-
er of her soldiery in this crisis. Immediately following
the -organization of the Bethel regiment, the First Regi-
ment of volunteers was mustered in at the Race Track
near Warrenton. Montford F. Stokes was elected Colonel ;
Matt W. Ransom, Lieutenant-Colonel, and John A. Mc-
Dowell, Major. Halifax County sent one company of 157
men ; and during the service of the company through the
period of the war, the following officers served in turn :
Captains, S. H. Gee, W. H. Day ; First Lieutenants, A. L.
Pierce, C. Branch; Second Lieutenants W. B. Williams
John Wynn, D. E. Stokes, R. J. Day.
Upon its organization, the regiment was ordered to
Richmond, and became a real fighting force in the Army
of Northern Virginia. It was assigned to Holmes' brigade
and received its first baptism of fire in the Seven Days
Battle, where about one-half of the entire regiment were
either killed or wounded. All the regimental officers were
shot down and the surviving men continued the pursuit
of the enemy without officers or orders. Colonel W. R.
Cox, at the time in command of the Second Regiment, was
ordered to take command also of the First. The pursuit
was continued to Malvern Hill, where the Federals made a
desperate stand and checked the Confederate drive. In
the last charge of Lee's lines upon the union works at
WAR'S ALARMS 111
Malvern Hill, the First Regiment performed heroic and
herculean tasks, and its dead were afterwards found near-
est the enemy's defences.
Later that year, the regiment participated in the Battle
of Antietam, where it lost, in killed and wounded, about
one-half of its total number. The next year it underwent
another baptism of fire at Chancellorsville, and again at
Gettysburg and Winchester. Continuing its career of
martial glory, the first regiment met the enemy at the
Wilderness, Spottslyvania, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg ;
and furled its banners at Appomattox.
It is beyond the compass of this work to give a narra-
tive of the exploits of all the volunteer companies from
Halifax County in the War between the States. It would
require a much more extended volume than the one now
being prepared. Hardly more than a mere mention can
be made of them, together with a few references to the
The Twelfth Regiment was organized in the summer
of 1861, and Company E, Halifax Light Infantry, became
an integral part of it. James H. Whitaker was chosen
Captain; J. H. Brickell, First Lieutenant; and John
Formey, Second Lieutenant. Along with many another
this regiment was sent to Virginia to assist in holding
the Confederate lines around Richmond. The Fourteenth
Regiment was organi-zed soon afterwards with Junius
Daniel, a gallant son of Halifax County, as Colonel. Dan-
iel rose to the rank of brigadier-general, and was killed,
at Spottsylvania, while brilliantly leading his brigade.
In July, 1861, the Twenty-fourth Regiment of volun-
teers was organized at Weldon. Company D, David C.
Clarke, Captain, Halifax County troops, was enrolled
in this splendid body of men. It participated in the
battles around Richmond, at Fredericksburg, and Pe-
tersburg. It formed a part of General Ransom's Com-
mand, sent into Northampton County in June, 1863,
to repel a Federal raid from the Chowan river to-
ward Weldon, having for its object the burning of the
112 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
railroad bridge across the Roanoke river. Ransom met
the enemy at Boone's Mill and inflicted upon him such a
defeat that he fled precipitately to the shelter of his
gunboats below Winton. The next year, Company D was
a part of Ransom's brigade that made the memorable
charge in the capture of Plymouth.
Later, in the summer of 1861, the Forty-First Regiment
was organized with the Scotland Neck Mounted Rifle-
men as one of its best fighting units. At the head of this
well equipped and well disciplined company were Ather-
ton B. Hill, Captain ; Benjamin G. Smith, First Lieuten-
ant ; Norfleet Smith, Second Lieutenant. It became a part
of the cavalry division of the Army of Northern Virginia.
In March, 1862, the Forty-Third Regiment was organ-
ized at Camp Mangum, near Raleigh. Junius Daniel, who
was at the time Colonel of the Fourteenth Regiment, was
elected to command this valiant body of troops. Daniel
was much in demand at the time and had been chosen to
head the Forty-Fifth Regiment, which was mobilized
about the same time. He accepted the latter position,
and was shortly afterwards promoted to the rank of
Halifax County furnished two companies for this regi-
ment, Companies D and F, the former commanded by
Cary Whitaker, Captain ; Thomas W. Baker, First Lieu-
tenant; John S. Whitaker, Second Lieutenant. Dur-
ing the period of enlistment, William Beavans and
George W. Willis also served in the position of Sec-
ond Lieutenant. Company F was officered as follows:
William R. Williams, Captain ; William C. Ousby, First
Lieutenant; Henry A. Mason, Second Lieutenant. The
foregoing were promoted during the progress of the war
to the position of captain, and William R. Bond, J. H.
Morris, W. L. M. Perkins, and Jesse A. Macon served in
turn in the position of Second Lieutenant.
The Forty-Third Regiment saw active service at Kins-
ton, Newbern, and Plymouth in this State, and at Gettys-
burg, Drury's Bluff in Virginia, and in the famous Val-
■i ■■^•^ - '-^-t -.
CONFEDERATE MONUMENT, WELDON, N. C.
WAR'S ALARMS 113
ley campaign under General Early. In all of these strug-
gles, the Halifax County men acquitted themselves hero-
ically. When General Pickett was given the command
against Newbern in January, 1864, the PVjrty-Third was
assigned to his division, and was in the attacking force
that met defeat on that occasion. In April, the same year,
it was with General Hoke in his successful assault upon
When the Junior Reserves were mustered into the Seven-
tieth Regiment in the summer of 1864, Halifax County
furnished one of the regimental officers, perhaps the
youngest officer in the southern army, Walter Clark, who
has since become distinguished in State and Nation. He
was fir.st elected Lieutenant-Colonel, but shortly after-
wards, upon a reorganization of the regiment to meet the
wishes of Lieutenant-General Holmes for more expe-
rienced senior officers, Clark was chosen Major. Halifax
County had no company in this regiment but its history-
is interesting because of the close connection with it of one
of the most distinguished sons of the county. In the bio-
graphy of Judge Clark, given elsewhere, will be found a
brief summary of the services of this body of troops.
In December, 1864, the Seventy-First Regiment of
Junior Reserves was organized at Weldon with J. H. An-
derson as Colonel. Halifax County furnished one company
officered as follows: W. R. Williams, Captain; David C.
Whitaker, First Lieutenant; W. E. Martin and W. T.
Purnell, Second Lieutenants. The regiment was in service
only about four months, but the Halifax Company had
been organized in July of the preceding summer and had
done provost duty at Weldon until attached to the Sev-
Almo.st immediately after its organization, Colonel
Anderson was ordered to Belfield (now Emporia), Va., to
check the advance of the P'ederals upon that place. This
was gallantly done, and, upon the retreat of the enemy,
he was pursued several miles. The weather was in-
tensely cold and the soldiers suffered very much from the
114 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
lack of proper clothing and bedding. For their gallant
service, on this occasion, the General Assembly passed a
resolution of thanks. Later, the regiment was attached
to Hoke's division, and was under fire at Kinston, South
West Creek, and Bentonville, surrendering with Johnston
Just previous to the organization of the Seventy-First
Regiment of Junior Reserves, by act of the Confederate
Congress the Seventh Cavalry was formed, which body
of troops was afterwards designated as the Seventy-Fifth
Regiment. Halifax County furnished one company with
the following officers: W. K. Lane of Wayne County
Captain ; John A. Collins, First Lieutenant ; W. F. Parker,
Second Lieutenant. No explanation is given why a man
from Wayne County was elected Captain more than the
fact that this was a company of Junior Reserves, and it
was desired to have an experienced officer to command.
During its term of service, John H. Branch also served
as first lieutenant. The regiment served in eastern North
Carolina, at Petersburg, and surrendered at Appomattox.
THE CONSTRUCTION AND SERVICE OF THE ALBEMARLE.
During the entire four years of warfare, from 1861 to
the surrender of Lee at Appomattox, April 9, 1865, not a
foot of Halifax County soil was occupied by Federal troops.
In a very important sense, we were remote from the war
zone and felt no shock of arms nor heard the din of battle.
Nevertheless, the county and particularly Weldon held a
strategic position throughout the war.
Weldon was selected, early in 1861, as a mobilization
camp for troops intended for the Virginia campaigns.
Just across the Roanoke, in Northampton County, was es-
tablished a school of instruction where raw recruits were
drilled and seasoned into grim warriors. Here, many of
the regiments were organized and trained before being
sent to the firing line.
The railroad lines through Weldon were the main ar-
teries that transported reinforcements and supplies to
Lee's army from the South. With these railroads in the
hands of the Confederacy, the war might be brought to a
successful conclusion or prolonged indefinitely ; with them
severed, Richmond would fall and the gray line around
Petersburg would be irretrievably broken. Hence the ef-
fort of the Federals, early in the war, to burn the railroad
bridge at Weldon and the determined purpose of the Con-
federates to hold it.
Weldon was, therefore, a place of much importance, far
more than its size, at that time, warranted. For a long
time, Lieutenant-General Holmes, in command of the de-
partment of Eastern North Carolina, made his headquar-
ters there; and later, during the closing months of the
war, Brigadier-General Baker, in command of the same
department, issued most of his orders from that point*
116 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
The concentration camps for troops from many portions
of the State and the far South were located on the out-
skirts of the town, and troops were constantly marching
and countermarching through the principal thorough-
fares. Weldon, therefore, presented all the appearances
of war without any of its accompanying horrors.
Elsewhere in the county, also, there was considerable
military activity, although no fighting occurred. Near
Scotland Neck, at Edwards' Ferry, the Ram Albemarle,
that performed such remarkable service in the recapture
of Plymouth, was built. As that extraordinary vessel
contributed such an important chapter in the record of
the war in North Carolina, a general statement about its
construction, equipment, manning, and services will not
be inappropriate. As to the construction and equipment,
the best authority is the builder of the wonderful naval
prodigy, Gilbert Elliott, of Elizabeth City, who was when
he began its construction just nineteen years of age. His
report, taken from Vol. V of the North Carolina Regi-
mental Histories, is here given :
"During the spring of 1863, having been previously en-
gaged in unsuccessful efforts to construct war vessels, of
one sort or another, for the Confederate Government, at
different points in Eastern North Carolina and Virginia, I
undertook a contract with the Navy Department to build
an iron-clad gunboat, intended, if ever completed, to oper-
ate on the waters of Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds. Ed-
wards' Ferry on the Roanoke river, in Halifax County,
North Carolina, about 30 miles below the town of Weldon,
was fixed upon as the most suitable for the purpose. The
river rises and falls, as is well known, and it was necessary
to locate the yard on ground sufficiently free from over-
flow to admit of uninterrupted work for at least twelve
months. No vessel was ever constructed under more ad-
verse circumstances. The shipyard was established in a
corn field, where the ground had already been marked out
and planted for the coming crop, but the owner of the land,
W. R. Smith, Esq., was in hearty sympathy with the en-
CONSTRUCTION AND SERVICE OF ALBEMARLE 117
terprise, and aided me then and afterwards, in a thousand
ways, to accomplish the end I had in view. It was next to
impossible to obtain machinery suitable for the work in
hand. Here and there, scattered about the surrounding
country, a portable saw mill, blacksmith's forge, or other
apparatus was found, however, and the citizens of the
neighborhoods on both sides of the river were not slow to
render me assistance, but co-operated cordially in the com-
pletion of the iron-clad, and at the end of about one year
from the laying of the keel, during which innumerable
difficulties were overcome by constant application, de-
termined effort, and incessant labor, day and night, suc-
cess crowned the efforts of those engaged in the under-
"Seizing an opportunity offered by comparatively high
water, the boat was launched, though not without mis-
givings as to the result, for the yard being on a bluff she
had to take a jump, and as a matter of fact was 'hogged'
in the attempt, but to our great gratification did not
thereby spring a leak.
"The plans and specifications were prepared by John
L. Porter, Chief Constructor of the Confederate Navy,
who availed himself of the advantage gained by his ex-
perience in converting the frigate Merrimack into the
iron-clad Virginia at the Gosport navy yard."
Mr. Elliott gives a very minute detailed statement as
to the size and armament of the vessel. Continuing he
"The Albemarle was 152 feet long between perpen-
diculars ; her extreme width was 45 feet ; her depth from
the gun-deck to the keel was 9 feet, and when launched
she drew 6 1-2 feet of water, but after being ironed and
completed her draught was about 8 feet. The keel was
laid, and construction was commenced by bolting down,
across the center, a piece of frame timber, which was of
yellow pine, eight by ten inches. Another frame of the
same size was then dovetailed into this, extending out-
wardly at an angle of forty-five degrees, forming the
118 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
side, and at the outer end of this the frame for the shield
was also dovetailed, the angle being thirty-five degrees,
and then the top deck was added, and so on around to the
other end of the bottom beam. Other beams were then
bolted down to the keel, and to the one first fastened, and
so on, working fore and aft, the main deck beams being
interposed from stem to stern. The shield was sixty
feet in length and octagonal in form. When this part of
the work was completed she was a solid boat, built of
pine frames, and if caulked would have floated in that
condition, but she was afterwards covered with four-
inch planking, laid on longitudinally, as ships are usually
planked, and this was properly caulked and pitched, cot-
ton being used for caulking instead of oakum, the latter
being very scarce and the former almost the only article
to be had in abundance. Much of the timber was hauled
long distances. Three portable saw mills were obtained,
one of which was located at the yard, the others being
moved about from time to time to such growing timber
as could be procured.
"The iron plating consisted of two courses, seven inches
wide and two inches thick, mostly rolled at the Tredeger
Iron Works, Richmond. The first course was laid length-
wise, over a wooden backing, 16 inches in thickness, a 2-
inch space, filled in with wood, being left between each
two layers to afford space for bolting the outer course
through the whole shield, and the outer course was laid
flush, forming a smooth surface, similar to that of the
Virginia. The inner part of the shield was covered with
a thin course of planking, nicely dressed, mainly with a
view to protection from splinters. Oak knees were bolt-
ed in, to act as braces and supports for the shield.
"The armament consisted of two rifled 'Brooke' guns
mounted on pivot-carriages, each gun working through
three port-holes, as occasion required, there being one
port-hole at each end of the shield and two on each side.
These were protected by iron covers lowered and raised
by a contrivance worked on the gun deck. She had two
CONSTRUCTION AND SERVICE OF ALBEMARLE 1 19
propellers driven by two engines of 200 horse power each
with 20-inch cylinders, steam being supplied by two flue
boilers, and the shafting was geared together. The sides
were covered from the knuckle, four feet below the deck,
with iron plates two inches thick. The prow was built
of oak, running 18 feet back, on center keelson and solidly
bolted, and it was covered on the outside with iron plat-
ing two inches thick, and tapering off to a four-inch edge,
formed the ram.
"The work of putting on the armor was prosecuted for
some time under the most disheartening circumstances,
on account of the difficulty of drilling holes in the iron in-
tended for her armor. But one small engine and drill
could be had, and it required, at the best, twenty minutes
to drill an inch and a quarter hole through the plates, and
it looked as if we would never accomplish the task. But
'necessity is the mother of invention', and one of my as-
sociates in the enterprise, Peter E. Smith, of Scotland
Neck, North Carolina, invented and made a twist-drill
with which the work of drilling a hole could be done in
four minutes, the drill cutting out the iron in shavings
instead of fine powder.
"For many reasons it was thought judicious to remove
the boat to the town of Halifax, about twenty miles up
the river, and the work of completion, putting in her ar-
mament, machinery, etc., was done at that point, although
the actual finishing touches were not given until a few
days before going into action at Plymouth."
Having been completed, the Albemarle was placed
under the command of Captain James W. Cooke, of the
Confederate Navy, and manned by a complement of dar-
ing sailors. Being ordered to co-operate with General
Hoke in his attack upon Plymouth, Cooke drifted down
the river stern foremost until he came within a few miles
of Plymouth. He then attacked the two Federal gun-
boats, the Southfield and Miami, sank the former, and
chased the latter to the Albemarle Sound, silencing also
the batteries on the river shore. The next day General
120 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
Hoke carried the Federal works by storm, captured the
to\ ', and took the entire garrison prisoners of war.
As for the Albemarle, a few more months of glory end-
ed her career on the spot of her greatest achievement.
Shortly after the recapture of Plymouth, Captain Cooke
proceeded down the Roanoke to its mouth and engaged,
in the Albemarle Sound, a Federal fleet of seven vessels.
After a teriffic battle of four hours, in which her smoke
stack was riddled and she was otherwise crippled, at the
cost of enormous losses to the Federals, she steamed back
to Plymouth, and lay almost a wreck until the night of
October 27, 1864, when she was torpedoed and sunk by
Lieutenant William B. Cushing of the United States Navy.
Subsequently, the Alhemarle was raised and towed to the
Norfolk Navy Yard, and, being stripped of her armament,
machinery, etc., was sold October 15, 1867.
Thus ended the career of one of the first iron-clad gun-
boats ever built and the only war vessel ever constructed
in Halifax County. Its riddled smoke stack is now in
the museum of the Historical Commission at Raleigh.
llf^**^. /^. G^f^
CLOSING INCIDENTS OF THE WAR.
Halifax County soldiers played an important, and fre-
quently a conspicuous, part in many of the great events
of the war. They were ever among the foremost in nearly
all of the great battles. There was no deed of daring, no
perilous duty to perform, no sacrifice to make, no suffer-
ing to endure that Halifax veterans were not ready to
undergo. The story of their patriotism, their endurance,
and their fortitude under most trying circumstances
would more than fill a volume. Only a few references to
their deeds and dangers can be made. It is difficult to
tell the story of the private soldier because of the lack
of information, but the record of the officers, in many a
duplicate, will give a fair estimate of the heroism of the
men in the trenches.
Halifax furnished to the Confederate service five brig-
adier-generals ; namely, L. O'B. Branch, Junius Daniel, W.
R. Cox, L. S. Baker, and David C. Clark, the last men-
tioned holding a State commission, while the others were
commissioned by the Confederate Government.
Branch was promoted to the rank of brigadier-general
in January, 1862, and given command of about 5000
troops with headquarters at Newbern. In March, of that
year, he was attacked by about 15,000 Federals, and, after
a stubborn resistance, was compelled to retreat, surren-
dering Newbern and the Pamlico country to the enemy.
Branch afterwards commanded a brigade in the Army of
Northern Virginia, and, at the Battle of Antietam, was
Daniel, whose commission as a brigadier dated from
September 1, 1862, was a gallant officer. His courage, en-
durance, and skill, were exhibited on many hard fought
122 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
battlefields; and in one of the most stubbornly contested
conflicts of the whole war, Spottsylvania, he was slain
while cheering on his men.
"Last at Appomattox" is a legend that has long been
claimed for North Carolina, and, in its glory, Halifax
County is entitled to a share. General W, R. Cox, a na-
tive of Scotland Neck, led the last charge of the last at-
tacking column that fired the last shot, on the morning
of Lee's surrender, a few minutes before the capitulation
took place. Cox's brigade, among whom were some gal-
lant sons of Halifax, thus did the last duty for the Con-
federacy, and, when ordered, stacked their arms with the
deepest feeling of humiliation and regret.
Brigadier-General David C. Clark, commissioned by
the State government, was, for a time, in command of
the district of the Roanoke, and guarded the county
against invasion from the southeast, again and again
foiling the raiding parties of the enemy from Plymouth
and the Albemarle country.
General Baker was a cavalry officer. During the last
six months of the war, he was in command of the District
of Eastern North Carolina with headquarters at Weldon.
Judge J. M. Mullen, of Petersburg, Va., at one time a resi-
dent of the county, has given, in Volume V of the Regi-
mental Histories, an interesting account of "The Last
Fifteen Days of Baker's Command at Weldon". With his
permission, a part of that article is inserted here :
"After the evacuation of Plymouth, Washington, Kin-
ston, and Goldsboro, Brigadier-General L. S. Baker was
sent to Weldon, charged with the duty of holding on to
that place, not only for the purpose of preserving railroad
communication between the other forces in North Caro-
lina and the Army of Northern Virginia, and those along
the line of the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad from
Goldsboro to that point, but of collecting supplies for
these armies from that portion of Eastern North Caro-
lina not actually in possession of the enemy. The author-
ities recognizing the importance of this position in these
CLOSING INCIDENTS OF THE WAR 123
respects, it being one of the principal sources of supply
for the armies in the field, instructed General Baker to
hold it until the last moment, and, at the same time, to
watch out for and repel any raids of the enemy coming
from the Blackwater and Chowan, and from Plymouth,
Washington, and Goldsboro. With the force under his
command, this was no light duty, and he was necessarily
absent from Weldon most of his time looking after the
various points under his supervision. Weldon, however,
was the headquarters of his department, which was styled
'The Second Military District of North Carolina'. In his
absence, the captain of our battery (Captain L. H. Webb,
Company A, Thirteenth Battalion, North Carolina Light
Artillery), was in command.
"The task imposed upon this small force, consisting of
two or three hundred infantry and our battery number-
ing about one hundred and twenty-five men, was no light
one. For weeks it had been in a state of constant activity
and excitement, enhanced towards the last with continued
suspense and anxiety. It had been constantly on the move
to meet threatened advances from the directions of the
Tar and lower Roanoke, and the Chowan and Blackwater
rivers. If I remember aright, during the month of March,
it had been sent upon two expeditions through Northamp-
ton, Hartford, and Bertie counties, to repel reported raids
of the enemy's cavalry from the Chowan, one, to and below
Tarboro to meet a threatened advance from the lower Tar
and Roanoke, and one, down at the Seaboard & Roanoke
Railroad towards Franklin, to check a cavalry raid from
the Blackwater. This last expedition, however, was in
April, the command returning to camp therefrom the night
of April 6. It was under command of Colonel Whitford,
who had with him not to exceed two hundred infantry,
(about fifty of whom were members of our company,
armed with inferior rifles), and two guns from our bat-
tery. I was with the expedition as a cannoneer of one of
the guns of the battery. I forgot to say that we were con-
124 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
veyed down the Seaboard road upon two or three flat cars,
and possibly a box car or two. Upon reaching Boykin's
Depot, about twenty-five miles from Weldon, we discovered
that, all below that point, the enemy had torn up and
burned the track so that it was impossible for us to pro-
ceed further on the train. Disembarking, we reconnoi-
tered the situation for several miles around and remained
there until next morning, when hearing that the enemy
was making his way in the direction of Weldon, we boarded
the train and started back. After passing Seaboard, a
small station about ten miles east of Weldon, Colonel Whit-
ford, who was riding on the engine, saw one or two men run
across the track some six or seven hundred yards ahead.
He at once ordered the train stopped. This precaution was
not taken any too soon ; for as soon as some of the infantry
were put off as skirmishers and the situation was taken in,
it was discovered that the track for some distance just
ahead of us was torn up and that the enemy had ambus-
caded both sides. We had passed Seaboard about a mile.
As soon as the train was stopped the enemy opened fire
upon us. Colonel Whitford caused the train to be run back
to Seaboard, where the remainder of the command was put
in position to await the return of the skirmishers, who
were ordered to fall back as soon as they could ascertain
with some certainty the force and purpose of the enemy.
They soon reported that the enemy, consisting of a regi-
ment of cavalry, had retired in the direction of Jackson,
which was distant some eight miles in a southeast direction
from where we were and away from Weldon. Colonel
Whitford concluded to follow on after them, but I sus-
pect with no hearty desire to meet up with them, for he
could but know that our force was not able to cope suc-
cessfully with a full regiment. Upon reaching Jackson,
we learned there that the regiment was the Third New
York Cavalry, about six hundred strong, well mounted
and thoroughly equipped with Spencer repeating car-
bines, and had passed through that town some hours be-
fore, and then must be near Murfreesboro, some twenty-
CLOSING INCIDENTS OF THE WAR 125
five miles distant. After waiting several hours at Jack-
son, our guns were ordered back overland to Weldon,
while the infantry under Colonel Whitf ord's command re-
tired to Halifax. I shall always remember with pleasure
one little incident connected with this affair. Several
weeks before, as we had more men than were required or
needed to man the guns, about sixty of our company had
been armed with rifles and acted with the infantry. When
the train was halted and skirmishers thrown off, I was
anxious to join them and endeavored to get one of the
riflemen to exchange places with me. I knew he was dis-
affected, and it occurred to me that he would not hesitate
to shirk danger ; but I reckoned without my host. He re-
jected the overture with some indignation, and remarked
that if anybody had to use his rifle he proposed to do it
himself ; and I ascertained that he behaved as gallantly as
any man. This but illustrates that it was not cowardice
that caused a great many of our soldiers to waver in
their allegiance towards the close of the war, but the ter-
rible hardships to which they were subjected, the dis-
tressing accounts of suffering of their loved ones at home,
and the intuitive knowledge that defeat was inevitable. I
remember with sadness, without any feeling of censure,
many instances of desertion of as brave men as ever
marched to the tap of a drum.
"On April 7, about 5 o'clock p. m., a telegram was re-
ceived by Captain Webb, who was in command, from Gen-
eral Johnston, ordering that all trains north of the Roa-
noke river be recalled at once, all the artillery that could
be moved got on the south side, and such heavy guns in
the defences north of the river as could not be moved be
destroyed, and the railroad bridge burned. Steps were at
once taken to execute the order, and by hard service all
night, the next morning (Saturday, 8th) found every-
thing in the shape of guns, ordnance, quartermaster and
commissary stores, removed from the north side of the
river and delivered in Weldon, and combustibles at once
gathered and placed at each end of the railroad bridge to
U6 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
fire it as soon as all the trains were safely over. The
bridge, however, was not fired that day, why, I will let
Captain Webb speak. I quote from his diary: 'General
Baker came up about 10 o'clock A. M. and ordered me
with my battery and Williams' section of artillery across
the river again. Upon getting my battery over the river,
I put my guns in position along the old line as I thought
best, and awaited ulterior orders from headquarters. My
only support were the feeble remains of a company of so-
called cavalry under Captain Strange. In all the twenty
men of his command, there was not a single man or offi-
cer decently mounted. With my old fiery Bucephalus,
Duncan, I could have charged and overturned every skel-
eton of a horse in his company. But the men were all
true Tar Heels, and there was no braver man than Cap-
tain Strange. On the afternoon of the 10th, the artillery
was ordered back to the south side, and preparations made
to leave Weldon.' According to Captain Webb, there were
then at that point about five hundred men, including at
least seventy-five stragglers, furloughed men, convales-
cents from the hospitals, and detailed men."
Judge Mullen proceeds, in his story, to tell of the aban-
donment of Weldon and the retreat of the command to-
ward Raleigh, in an effort to join General Johnston at that
place. The little army left Weldon on April 12th and had
not gone far on the way when news of the surrender of
Lee reached them, and the realization that the cause was
indeed a lost one came upon them. Nevertheless, they
continued to push on, hoping to join Johnston and with
him to strike one more blow in behalf of the expiring Con-
federacy. At Ridgeway, the command separated, the bulk
of the men returning to their homes, while fifty under the
immediate direction of General Baker continued their ef-
forts to join Johnston. At Earpsboro, however, on April
18th, General Baker received information that Johnston
had surrendered. He, therefore, sent a flag of truce to
General Sherman surrendering his command on April
CLOSING INCIDENTS OF THE WAR 127
At Weldon, after Baker's Brigade had left, the great-
est excitement prevailed. People from the Northampton
side of the river came crowding into the town to escape
the imagined evils that they supposed would follow in the
wake of the Federal army of occupation. The railroad
bridge was the scene of the greatest interest and alarm»
All the trains and engines in Weldon and vicinity were
run on the bridge, and, on the 13th of April, fire was ap-
plied, consuming the structure and letting fall the engines
to the bottom of the river. This was supposed to cut
Weldon off from the danger of immediate occupation by
the union forces. Such, however, was not the case, for
not many days passed before the blue coats came and as-
sumed general direction of affairs, coming from the
Northampton side of the river as patrol parties from
Grant's army in Virginia and from Goldsboro, that was
then in the hands of Sherman.
In a few weeks, all the soldiers, surrendered by Lee at
Appomattox and by Johnston at Durham, found their way
to their homes, and people generally began to realize that
the long war had ended. Halifax County men, who had
surrendered, returned, feeling that they had fought a
good fight in support of the old regime and had failed, and
were now ready to accept the result in good faith and
make the most of it.
The Federal forces lost no time in completely occupy-
ing the county. Patrol posts were established at Halifax,
Enfield, and Weldon, and Federal soldiers and officers were
seen in every community. The war was over, but the bit-
terness of defeat was present.
Recovery from the effects of the war was slow but
steady. The men, who had followed Lee in Virginia or
suffered in the trenches around Petersburg and Richmond,
now entered heartily into the task of rebuilding the waste
places. Some of the soldier boys, who had been wounded
or held in prison, did not get back to their homes until late
in the summer or early fall of 1865. When they did re-
turn, however, they, too, began the work of rebuilding.
The war, it is true, was ended, but the battles of peace, no
less stern and unrelenting, had to be fought ; and the man-
hood of Halifax, that had heard without fear the whistle
of bullets, or seen without dismay, the glimmer of bay-
onets, did not hesitate to do their part.
Halifax County was in the gloom of defeat and in dan-
ger of alien domination ; but it needed development. The
four years of war had arrested the march of progress in
almost every line of industry. There was no enterprise
in agriculture, no manufacturing, no lumbering, no bank-
ing, and none of the many other lines of business now be-
ing conducted so successfully in the county. The red hand
of war had blasted every important industry, and stagna-
tion was stalking abroad.
But the heroes of the trenches were no less brave in
home development than they had been on the battlefield.
With no less courage, in the piping times of peace, than
they had displayed on a hundred fields of carnage, the
boys that went out to battle with enthusiasm in 1861 and
returned in 1865, unconquered but overwhelmed, entered
with zeal into the task of development. With industry
and enterprise characteristic of a people determined to
RECONSTRUCTION DAYS 129
succeed, the county soon began to emerge from its stupor
and to put on new life.
Gloom and disaster, however, almost as bad as the
storm of war was just ahead. With the advent of peace
and the freedom of the negro, grave feelings of uneasiness
became apparent as to the status of the f reedman and his
political affiliations, if he should be given the ballot.
During the war, the county had been represented in the
State Senate by Mason L. Wiggins and in the House by
Henry Joyner and Archibald H. Davis. For the year 18G6,
Mason L. Wiggins was re-elected to the Senate. D. C.
Clark and W. A. Daniel were chosen to represent the
county in the House. To represent Halifax in the Con-
vention of 1865. called to rescind the ordinance of seces-
sion and to ratify the emancipation of the slaves, Edward
Conigland and W. W. Brickell were chosen.
In this time of stress and uneasiness, all eyes were
focused upon the Federal Congress, anxiously awaiting
action by that body regarding the restoration of the State
to its position as a member of the union. It was not until
1867, however, that Congress decided definitely upon a
policy for the seceded states. In March, that year, the
first of the reconstruction acts were passed, organizing
North and South Carolina into a military district with
General E. R. Canby as military governor with headquar-
ters at Charleston, S. C. The same year. Congress passed
the Fourteenth Amendment, which conferred the fran-
chise upon the negro men of the South, and, by statute,
withdrew it from thousands of white men, who had taken
part in the late war.
By this reconstruction measure, more than 3000 negro
men became legalized citizens in Halifax county, and cast
their ballots for tne first time in the election of 1868. In
that year, the number of votes cast were as follows : Dem-
ocratic, 1,593 ; Republican, 3,206. This vote compared with
that of 1856 shows a startling increase. In that year, the
vote was as follows : Democratic, 688 ; Whig, 509. There
was, therefore, an increase in 1868 of 3,602, at least five-
130 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
sixth of which was the negro vote. The white voters, as
is apparent, found themselves overwhelmed by this ava-
lanche of negro ballots. An evil day consequently dawned ;
and Halifax County, that had hitherto furnished men of
learning and ability to the councils of State and nation,
now found itself in the hands of ignorant ex-slaves, de-
signing scalawags, and worse carpetbaggers. Henry
Epps, a former slave, was elected in 1868, to the State
Senate, and two other negroes, H. T. J. Hayes and Ivey
Hutchings, and a carpetbagger, John H. Renfrow, were
elected to the House. The government of the county fell
entirely into the hands of the negroes and their confed-
erates, the scalawags and carpetbaggers.
This domination continued until 1888, when the alien
government was completely overthrown, and the native
white people again assumed control. During that period,
however, of political stagnation, from 1868 to 1888, the
county made decided advances in material prosperity.
In 1868, the towns in the county were of little note.
Halifax had lost its pristine significance and was of small
commercial importance. Weldon was noted only as be-
ing the terminus of four railroads. Scotland Neck was
merely two villages, Clarksville and Greenwood, a mile
apart, Enfield, with about five hundred people, was per-
haps the largest town in the county. Littleton had just
emerged from the stigma of being called Little's Ordinary
and was a mere hamlet. Palmyra was a small neighbor-
hood on the Roanoke. Hobgood, Roanoke Rapids, Rose-
mary, and Hollister were not as yet in existence.
Since 1868, however, the forces of industry have
brought about a wonderful change in the commercial im-
portance of the country. Tremendous strides have been
made in the development of agriculture. Land, which, in
1868, produced no more than a half bale of cotton to the
acre, now produces a bale and a half. In manufacturing,
the most wonderful progress has been made. At the close
of the civil war, there was not a factory of any kind in
the county, and that record continued until about 1890.
RECONSTRUCTION DAYS • 131
In that year a knitting mill was built in Scotland Neck. In
1892, Major Thomas L. Emry began the development of
the water power of the Roanoke river at a point about
five miles above Weldon, and from his efforts has come the
magic town of Roanoke Rapids with its large cotton fac-
tories, knitting mills, and paper mill and a population of
over six thousand people. Weldon has also become a man-
ufacturing center. At Hollister, the Fosburgh Lumber
Company has one of the largest plants in the county. In
1868, there was not a bank in the county. Now there are
In railroad building, the county has been among the
first in the State. Besides the two trunk lines that were
built before the outbreak of the Civil War, two other
lines, the Kinston Branch and the Norfolk and Carolina,,
have been completed since 1880. In all about fifty miles
of railroad have been constructed since the civil war.
SINCE RECONSTRUCTION DAYS.
Until 1880, the government of the county was entirely
in the hands of the ignorant element. They held all the
remunerative offices and sent to the General Assembly
regularly from 1868 to 1880 a negro to the Senate and a
negro and a white man, a carpetbagger or a scalawag, to
the House. In 1880, however, the conservatives asserted
themselves and elected to the General Assembly Spier
Whitaker, representative in the Senate and William H.
Day and M. T. Savage in the House. The "radical" ele-
ment again triumphed at the polls in 1882, but, in 1884,
it was again overthrown by the election to the Senate of
J. M. Mullen, and David Bell and A. J. Burton to the
House. Again in 1886 the alien government became es-
tablished to be finally overthrown in 1888 by the election
of Thomas L. Emry to the Senate and W. H. Anthony and
Thomas H. Taylor to the House.
Since that time the following representatives have
served terms in the General Assembly :
House of Representatives
W. W. Hall, A. B. Hill
W. H. Kitchin
J. M. Grizzard, J. A. House
Scotland Harris, J. H. Arrington
W. P. White, H. S. Harrison
W. F. Parker, W. P. White
W, F. Parker, W. P. White
T. C. Harrison, Sandys Gale
John B. Neal, A. Paul Kitchin
A. Paul Kitchin, H. S. Harrison
W. T. Clement, P. N. Stainbach,
A. H. Green
1913 W. E. Daniel W. T. Clement, W. P. White
1915 W. L. Long j. H. Darden, T. H. Taylor
1917 W. L. Long J. H. Darden, T. H, Taylor
SINCE RECONSTRUCTION DAYS 133
These men, most of them still living, performed a part
in rescuing the county from the grip of reconstruction
evils that is little short of marvellous. Some of them at-
tained positions of honor outside of the county, and, there-
fore, deserve more than a passing mention. W. H. Day
afterwards removed to Raleigh and became one of the
most prominent attorneys in the State capital. Kitchin
had, in 1878, been elected to Congress defeating two
negroes, John A. Hyman, of Warren, and James E.
O'Hara, of Halifax, both running on the Republican ticket.
Travis is now, 1917, chairman of the State Corporation
Commission, having been elected to a position in that body
in 1910. Daniel was solicitor for this judicial district
from 1894 to 1906, making a splendid record in that
Previous to 1871, for ten years, Halifax County had
been in the First Congressional District ; but in that year
it became incorporated in the Second. In 1870, Charles
R. Thomas, a Republican, was elected to represent the dis-
trict in Congress, and re-elected in 1872. Thomas was a
scalawag from Newbern. In 1874, the district did an un-
precedented thing in electing a negro, John A. Hyman, of
Warren County, to the national Congress. Two years
later, Curtis H. Brogden, of Goldsboro, who had been
governor of the State for two years, was chosen; but in
1878 Brogden failed of the nomination on the Republican
ticket and two negroes, John A. Hyman, of Warren, and
James E. O'Hara, of Halifax, were candidates, both claim-
ing to have been nominated by the Republican Conven-
tion. Seeing a chance of success, the Democrats nomi-
nated W. H. Kitchin, of Scotland Neck. A spectacular
three-cornered fight was the result, and Kitchin was
elected by a plurality vote.
For twenty years following that time, the second dis-
trict was represented in Congress by negroes, James E.
O'Hara, of Halifax, H. P. Cheatham, of Vance, and George
H. White, of Edgecombe. In 1900, however, Claude
Kitchin, of Scotland Neck, was elected and has been con-
134 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
tinuously in Congress since. He has taken high rank and
is now Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee of
the House and the floor leader of the Democrats.
Halifax County took an active part in the World War.
Claude Kitchin, Chairman of the Ways and Means Com-
mittee of the House of Representatives of the National
Congress, voted against the Declaration of War with Ger-
many, April 6, 1917, but, finding himself in the minority,
he accepted the result as conclusive and allied himself
with the President of the United States in the greatest war
preparation ever undertaken by a nation. The war meas-
ures that startled the world in the enormous revenue
raised for the prosecution of the war and the transporta-
tion of two millions of soldiers to Europe were largely the
product of his efforts.
More than twelve hundred men were sent by the Hali-
fax County Exemption Board to the training camps, and
about one hundred, besides, volunteered for different lines
of service. Many saw active service on the battlefields of
France, and some made the extreme sacrifice for country
In every drive for Liberty Loans or for war work, the
county went "over the top" early in the campaigns. In the
fight, therefore, for the liberation of mankind and in mak-
ing the world safe for democracy and Christianity, the
county did no small part. Both men and money answered
the call and answered it gloriously.
At present, Halifax County ranks as one of the fore-
most in the State in political influence, in educational
progress, in religious development, in material prosperity,
and in general industrial activity. Perhaps, there is no
county in North Carolina that stands higher in any of
these activities. On the Supreme Court Bench, the chief-
justice. Judge Walter Clark, is a native of Halifax. The
Chairman of the North Carolina Corporation Commission,
E. L. Travis, lives in Halifax. The Chairman of the Ways
and Means Committee of the Federal House of Represen-
tatives, Claude Kitchin, lives in Scotland Neck. William
SINCE RECONSTRUCTION DAYS 135
W. Kitchin, who was a member of Congress for twelve
years and Governor of North Carolina for four years, is
a Halifax County man, though he now lives in Raleigh.
In educational activity the county ranks high. Wel-
don, Roanoke Rapids, Rosemary, Scotland Neck, Enfield,
and Littleton have splendid systems of public graded
schools with valuable brick buildings in which the schools
are conducted. Halifax, Hobgood, and Hollister have also
good schools. Religiously, also, the county is wide awake.
In other lines of progress, the county is by no means a
If we compare Halifax County of the present with one
hundred and fifty years ago, we shall see a wonderful dif-
ference. Then, a few hundred people lived here ; now fifty
thousand. Then, only two villages in the county; now
five thriving towns with large industrial and commercial
activities. Then, no roads worthy the name; now splen-
did sand-clay turnpikes traversing almost every section.
Then, no industry of any note ; now, almost every line of
business in the modern world represented. Then, no
schools; now, six city school systems besides other High
Schools and rural schools of splendid efficiency. Then,
few churches ; now beautiful and substantial houses of
worship in every neighborhood. In short, Halifax County
in a few generations, has leaped from the desolation of
the wilderness, unknown and unhonored, into the cal-
cium light of railroads, telegraph lines, telephones, elec-
tric lights, schools, newspapers, churches, paved boule-
vards, factories, paper mills, and all the conveniences and
improvements of the modern community. Well might it
be said "What wonderful changes time hath wrought!"
SOME ODDS AND ENDS OF HISTORY.
There are numbers of interesting incidents connected
with the history of Halifax County, not vitally concerned
in the story as given in the preceding pages, but are so
absorbing that mention may very well be made in a
chapter of "Odds and Ends."
The Crowell Family.
From Wheeler's History of North Carolina:
"Two brothers, John Crowell and Edward, came to
North Carolina and settled in Halifax. They emigrated
from Woodbridge, New Jersey. They are originally from
England; and they or their ancestors were originally
"In the year 1674, says the Annalist of Philadelphia,
two brothers of Oliver Cromwell left England for Amer-
ica and settled in New Jersey. They fled from England,
from the political storms that impended over the name
and house of the late Protector.
"While on the voyage, fearing that persecution would
follow from the adherents of Charles II., then on the
English throne, they resolved to change the name. This
was done with solemn ceremony, and by writing their
name each on paper, and each cutting from the paper the
M and casting it in the sea.
"The family pedigree on vellum, recording these facts,
was with the family in North Carolina, in an ornamental
chest with other valuables, when by a party of Tarleton's
Legion, in 1781, this chest was seized and taken off. These
facts are undoubted. The record was again made up from
the recollections of the family, and is still preserved
SOME ODDS AND ENDS OF HISTORY 137
among them. From one of them, these interesting and
curious facts are derived.
"Here, in the quiet retreats of North Carolina, the as-
piring blood of Cromwell found repose, and in the peace-
ful precincts of Halifax, the exquisite poetry of Gray
was fully realized :
'Some village Hampden, who with dauntless breast,
The petty tyrant of his fields withstood,
Some mute, inglorious Milton here may rest,
Some Cromwell guiltless of his Country's blood.' "
ThiS' story of the Crowell family has been robbed of
some of its interest in the last few years by the statement
that Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector, was the only
son of his father surviving infancy. These brothers, who
came to America from England, could not, therefore, have
been his. Another story of this interesting incident was
found among the papers of the late S. S. Alsop, a part of
which is here quoted:
"After the death of Oliver Cromwell, which happened
about the year 1658, his eldest son, Richard Cromwell,
having been named as his successor, quietly assumed the
reins of government. It was very soon discovered, how-
ever, that the talent and disposition of Richard were by
no means of an order to enable him to hold with firmness
that which his father had won by the exercise of much
energy, skill, and political address. Being a man of peace-
ful disposition, amiable, and unambitious, Richard
allowed himself to be deposed without the least effort to
prevent it. Charles II. was now recalled from Normandy
and offered the throne. Richard Cromwell, in the mean-
time, had retired to his country seat, where, in the pur-
suit of more congenial employment, he lived to a very old
age in the practice of all social and domestic virtues, and
in the enjoyment of those rich and pleasant rewards
which ever follow a well-spent life. After the death of
Richard, his sons emigrated to America, about the begin-
ning of the eighteenth century, and settled in New Jer-
138 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
sey. Before landing, however, a family council was held
when, in the known unpopularity of the family on this
side, especially in the middle and southern provinces, it
was agreed to drop from the name the letter (m), thus
leaving it Crowell, as it is at present written.
"Shortly after the settlement of the family in New Jer-
sey, Edward and Joseph Crowell were born, and from
thence, about 1730, immigrated into this State. Here
Joseph married a Miss Barns, a woman, says Wheeler, re-
markable for her personal beauty.
"Edward Crowell, who settled near what is now known
as Crowell's X Roads, married a Miss Raburn, a sister of
Matthew Raburn, afterwards Governor of Georgia."
ADVENTURES OF A PRIVATEER.
A story from the pen of James Moore, father of B. F.
Moore, at one time Attorney-General of North Carolina,
is interesting enough to find a place in this volume. The
following is his own account:
"In 1775-6, enlistments were made in the neighbor-
hoods where the musters were held, and I was very anx-
iously concerned because I was not of the age required
for a soldier (i. e. 16). At this time I was only ten or
eleven years old, and during a part of the period from
thence till I reached the required age, I was at school;
but as soon as I was sixteen, which was in 1781, the year
in which Cornwallis was taken, I entered on board a
privateer schooner called the Hannah, which sailed out of
Edenton on an eight weeks' cruise.
"Our captain's name was Kit Gardiner, an Englishman
by birth. William Gold, of Connecticut, was lieutenant,
and Daniel Webb, of South Quay, Nausemond County,
Virginia, was first prize master.
"We sailed in March from Edenton and crossed the
Ocracoke bar and soon was in the Gulf Stream with heavy
surges. We sprung our bowsprit and put into Beaufort
harbor and put another in. From there we sailed and
SOME ODDS AND ENDS OF HISTORY 139
cruised off Charleston, took four prizes and condemned
three. The fourth was a Bermudean, a neutral, and he
had two sets of consignments, one for a British port and
the other for an American, by which means she was
cleared ut Wilmington, N. C.
"The first prize was a schooner from Cork, Ireland, to
New York. She was taken first by a privateer out of
Philadelphia and retaken by the Charleston frigate. This
frigate was built in Newburyport, fifty miles eastward of
Boston (I was shown the spot where it was said she was
built) and was called the Boston. She happened to be in
Charleston when the British took that city, and they
changed her name and called her Charleston. After her
capture she was their regular packet from Charleston to
"In our cruise, we took a schooner called the Lord Corn-
wallis, laden with Governor Martin's effects. He was
Governor of South Carolina and became traitor; and
when laying in provisions against the siege, he caused
the barrels to be filled with sand instead of pork.
"The second prize was from New Hampshire laden with
salt and garden seeds, such as peas, beans, etc. I was put
aboard of her. Our place of rendezvous was Beaufort, N.
C. Now as we took the vessel near Charleston, the port
to which she was bound, it was reasonable to suppose
that her provisions were nearly exhausted, which was the
"With these, we undertook to make Beaufort, but in-
stead of that, the first port was Newburyport, fifty miles
eastward of Boston, and, sixteen days after, we were
tossed and carried by contrary winds, going all around the
different capes till we were off the Banks of Newfound-
land and in view of the Agamenticus Hills, whose appear-
ance, when seen at sea, is like three burly-headed clouds.
We sailed along thence and arrived at Newburyport, sold
our cargo (salt) at one dollar a bushel, and I received
what the prize master saw fit to allow me, which was four
140 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
Governor Burton's Apparition.
There is a well authenticated story connected with the
death of Governor Hutchings G. Burton in 1836. The
following account is the language of S. S. Alsop, who left
some valuable notes on the history of the county:
"Governor Burton had a summer home in the western
part of the county near Ringwood named Rocky Hill, at
which he was residing at the time of his death. He had
bought a large tract of land in Texas and had started to
see it, with a view of removing if he liked it. Reaching
Salisbury, where he had some business in court, he met
with his cousin, Robert Burton, of Lincoln County, and
started to spend some time with him. They stopped at
the Wayside Inn, with some other lawyers to spend the
night, when he was taken with cramp and died within
twenty-four hours. His last words were, *0h, my dear
wife and children. Lord, receive my spirit.' He was
buried in Unity Church yard, in Lincoln County, a Pres-
byterian church, of which he was a member.
"His wife had been on a visit and was returning to her
home. Rocky Hill, which is on a high elevation — about
dusk. She was driven in a carriage by her servant Wil-
liam and had with her a grandchild, an infant, and a
nurse. At the same time, she and William saw Governor
Burton riding down the hill on a white horse, which he
usually rode. Just then the infant cried and Mrs. Burton
turned her head to see what was the matter. When she
turned her head again expecting her husband to speak,
the apparition had disappeared. She at once asked Wil-
liam where was his master. He did not answer and she
repeated the question. He then said, 'Hush, Missus,' and
told her he had ridden on down the hill and disappeared.
He could never speak of it afterwards.
"On account of the slow mails of that day, Mrs. Burton
did not hear of her husband's death until three weeks had
passed, and found that the apparition had appeared at the
very hour of his death."
SOME ODDS AND ENDS OF HISTORY 141
In the southern end of the town of Halifax, near
Quanky Creek, was built about the year 1765, the famous
home of Willie Jones, known as **The Grove Place". The
four front rooms were built of material brought from the
wreck of the home of Robert Jones, father of Willie Jones,
in Northampton County. This home of the elder Jones
was known as "Jones' Castle" and had been built near
the beginning of the eighteenth century of material said
to have been brought from England.
Willie Jones, the owner, was a man of considerable
means, and greatly beautified not only the house but also
the grounds. There was a race-track near the residence,
which was used extensively by the residents of Halifax
and by those who came from afar for the sport there af-
forded. Willie Jones owned blooded horses and was the
leader in that line of sports as well as in many other lines.
The house is noted for having been, at different times,
the headquarters of a part of three armies. During the
Revolutionary war, Lord Cornwallis was entertained
there while the British army was encamped in the town
on its way to its Waterloo at Yorktown. In this house,
also. Colonel Tarleton met his defeat in repartee at the
hands of Mrs. Jones and her sister, Mrs. Ashe.
During the war between the States, Colonel McRae, by
invitation of the owner, had his regiment quartered there
for some weeks. At the close of the war, the house was
unoccupied and was taken possession of by a part of the
Federal army of occupation. For some years after the
Civil War, the house was unoccupied.
Willie Jones, at his death, willed the home to his son,
Willie W. Jones, who lived and died an old bachelor; and
at his death, his sisters, Mrs. Eppes and Mrs. Burton, ac-
quired possession. It remained in the Eppes family for
many years and came to be called "The Eppes Home". It
is now in decay, but an effort is being made by the Hali-
fax Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution
to reclaim and rebuild it.
142 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
It is sometimes erroneously called the "Paul Jones
House". John Paul Jones did reside there for some time,
but only as a guest or protege of the owner, Willie Jones.
Another historic house is "Quanky", where Colonel
Nicholas Long, of the Revolution, lived. It was located
just across Quanky Creek from the "Grove Place". Not
one stone is left upon another now, and not even the site
can be definitely determined. Here, during the Revolu-
tion, Colonel Long, who was, at the beginning of the war,
in command of the Halifax regiment, entertained the high
officials of the State and nation.
"Rocky Hill", the summer home of Governor Hutch-
ings G. Burton, near Ringwood, is still standing, owned
now by Mr. S. Harrison. Governor Burton, during his
life as a public man, lived in the town of Halifax at the
Grove House ; but spent the greater part of the summers
at "Rocky Hill", and was making it his permanent home
at the time of his death in 1836.
Besides these historic homes, there are other buildings
of more or less note. The home of General William R.
Davie is still standing in the town of Halifax. The "Con-
stitution Building", where the first State Constitution of
North Carolina was written, is in a dilapidated condition,
as is the old Town Hall, where the Convention met in
1776, both being in the town of Halifax. Here, also, is
the Masonic Temple, a building venerable and historic.
Between it and the river, on Main Street, is the site of the
old Eagle Hotel, so famous during the Revolution and for
years afterward. Now, hardly the foundations can be
Halifax County was formed from Edgecombe County
in 1758 and named in honor of Charles Montague, Earl of
Halifax, who was, at the time. Secretary of the British
Board of Trade.
The first settlements were made on Roanoke river and
Conoconara swamp about 1723, and on Quanky Creek near
the same time.
The first resistance to British oppression took place in
Halifax County when armed men seized Corbin and Bodly,
agents of Lord Granville, near Edenton and brought them
forcibly to Enfield, in 1759, and lodged them in jail.
Joseph Montford, the first and only Grand Master of
Masons for the Continent of North America, lived in Hal-
April 12, 1776, the Provincial Congress, in session in
Halifax, passed the famous resolution instructing the
delegates in the Continental Congress from North Caro-
lina to vote for a National Declaration of Independence,
antedating similar resolutions from other colonies.
November 12, 1776, the first Constitutional Conven-
tion of North Carolina met in Halifax and organized the
From 1776 to 1782, nearly every session of the General
Assembly met in Halifax.
Halifax County had one of the representatives in the
Continental Congress for several years, Willie Jones.
In the National Convention of 1787, Halifax County had
two of the six representatives from North Carolina, Wil-
lie Jones and William R. Davie. Jones, however, refused
to serve and afterwards opposed the ratification of the
144 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
Halifax County has had one ambassador to France,
William R. Davie, and one member of the President's cab-
inet, John Branch.
The County has had the following members of the Na-
tional House of Representatives :
John B. Ashe 1787—1788
John B. Ashe 1789—1793
Willis Alston 1799—1815
Hutchings G. Burton 1819—1825
Willis Alston 1825—1831
John Branch 1831—1833
Jesse A. Bynum 1833—1841
John R. J. Daniel 1841—1853
L. O'B. Branch 1855—1861
W. H. Kitchin 1879—1881
James E. O'Hara (negro) 1883—1887
W. W. Kitchin* 1897—1909
Claude Kitchin 1901—
(*Elected from Person Co.)
One Senator in the United States Congress was from
Halifax County, John Branch, who served from 1823 to
The following Councillors of State were from Halifax
County. Usually there were seven from the State at
Willie Jones 1781—1782
Willie Jones 1787—1788
John Branch 1793—1798
John Branch 1801—1804
Gideon Alston 1807—1830
Isham Matthews 1834—1835
Henry Joyner 1866
Halifax County has given the following Governors to
Abner Nash 1780—1781
William R. Davie 1798—1799
John Branch 1817—1820
Hutchings G. Burton 1825—1827
W. W. Kitchin* 1909—1913
(♦Elected from Person Co.)
The following Comptrollers :
John Craven 1784—1808
James Grant 1827—1834
The following Attorney-Generals were elected from Hal-
John Haywood 1791—1794
Hutchings G. Burton 1810—1816
William Drew 1816—1825
John R. J. Daniel 1835—1840
Spier Whitaker 1842—1846
B. F. Moore 1848—1851
The county has furnished two judges of the Supreme
Court of North Carolina :
Joseph J. Daniel 1832—1848
Walter Clark 1889—
Clark has been chief -justice since 1903.
Five judges of the Superior Court have been chosen
John Haywood 1794—1800
Joseph J. Daniel 1816—1832
Walter Clark 1885—1889
Spier Whitaker 1889—1894
W. R. Cox 1877—1879
Halifax County furnished four brigadier-generals to the
146 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
Date of Rank
L. O'B. Branch (killed at Antietam) Nov. 16, 1861
Junius Daniel (killed at Spottsylvania) .... Sept. 1, 1862
Lawrence S. Baker July 23, 1863
William R. Cox May 31, 1864
David C. Clark held the rank of brigadier-general in the
State militia and received his commission from the State
In the Revolutionary war, the county furnished one
brigadier-general in the Continental service, James Ho-
gan. The "Father of the American Navy", John Paul
Jones, was appointed Captain of the Ranger while resid-
ing at Halifax.
The last soil held by Cornwallis, in North Carolina, was
in Halifax just before his retreat to Virginia where he
was soon bottled up and captured.
At the Eagle Hotel both President Washington and
General Lafayette were entertained with elaborate cere-
mony at different times.
The Confederate iron-clad, the Ram Albemarle, was
built near Scotland Neck, the first and only one built in
Halifax has furnished more Governors (five) than any
other county in the State ; more attorneys-general (six) ;
more members of Congress (fifteen) ; more brigadier-
generals (six) than any other county.
Soldiers from Halifax have always stood in the front
line. They were among the first to march to Washing-
ton's aid in 1776, among the first at Bethel, among the
foremost at Gettysburg, and the last at Appomattox.
There are twelve townships, as follows: Halifax, Wel-
don, Roanoke Rapids, Littleton, Conoconara, Scotland
Neck, Roseneath, Butterwood, Brinkleyville, Fau-
cette. Palmyra, and Enfield. There are ten towns, Wel-
don, Halifax, Enfield, Scotland Neck, Roanoke Rapids,
Rosemary, Littleton, Hobgood, Palmyra, and HoUister.
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY.
Unknown are most of the real builders of the county.
The men, who with axe and hoe, smote the forests and
turned a wilderness into towns, farms, and gardens, lie
mostly in unremembered graves. Few of the thousands,
who wrought unselfishly in carving the county from the
heritage of the woods, achieved distinction. Very few
can be mentioned in a story of their deeds. Pity it is
that the pages of the Recording Angel are not accessible
to the historian; for many a hero and heroine, whose
deeds are, doubtless, recorded in letters of gold, will have
to be passed by with not even a word. Such is the fate
of the great masses of humanity that come into exis-
tence, play for a brief time upon the world's stage, and
pass off to an eternal oblivion. 'Tis but a few that catch
the ear and attract the eye of men.
In this part of the work, brief sketches of those who
have had to do with the making of the county are given.
Some, perhaps, who belong in the number, are not given
for the reason that their footprints have become so dim
that they could not be traced. Only those who have made
a distinct impression upon the records of the county
have been selected. The "uncrowned kings," who toiled
and delved and dropped into unmarked graves, must be
necessarily omitted. Even many of those who held rank
and won honor among their fellows must go unrecorded.
Among those who became prominent about the time
of the formation of the county was Joseph Montford,
15D HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
who was born in England in 1724 and came to North
Carolina in early life. He received a liberal education
in his native land before coming to America, an asset
which was worth much to him in shaping his career
in the land of his adoption.
Coming to North Carolina about 1750, Montford lo-
cated on the north bank of Quanky Creek in what after-
wards came to be called Halifax. Before Halifax County
was formed and while the territory north of Fishing
Creek was called Edgecombe Parish, he was elected Clerk
of the Court of Edgecombe County and served in that
capacity at Enfield, the County seat of Edgecombe, un-
til Halifax County was organized in 1758, when he was
elected Clerk of the Court of Halifax and was re-elected
each year until his death.
In addition to his duties as Clerk of the Court, he was
called upon to serve in other capacities. When the Hali-
fax Judicial District was formed in 1760, Montford was
chosen Clerk of the District Court. He was, also, one of
the commissioners of the town of Halifax in 1764, and
member of the Colonial Assembly in 1762, 1764, 1766,
1767 and 1773. He was chosen Colonel of the Halifax
militia before the outbreak of the Revolutionary war,
and, in addition to other duties, he was made treasurer
of the Northern Counties of the province in 1764.
While serving in this last capacity, he came in direct
antagonism with Governor Tryon, who was at the time
<sngaged in his war with the Regulators. Tryon was
•organizing and equipping his army ready for his cam-
paign against the rebels of Orange County and needed
money to pay his soldiers. He drew drafts upon Colo-
nel Montford, without authority of the Assembly, which
Montford refused to pay. Tryon blustered and threat-
ened, but his drafts were not paid until the Assembly au-
thorized their payment.
An unusual honor came to Colonel Montford in March,
1772, when he received a commission from the Duke of
Beaufort, Grand Master of MaSons of Great Britain, ap-
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 151
pointing him Provincial Grand Master of and for North
America. So far as is known, this was the first and only-
time such a signal honor was bestowed. This commis-
sion was held until his death in 1776.
Colonel Montford was a staunch patriot and stren-
uously advocated separation from the mother country,
but an incurable disease was preying upon him and he
was unable to do anything to bring about the desired
condition. He died March 25, 1776, about the time the
Revolution was getting fully under way. His remains
rest in the yard lof the Masonic temple at Halifax.
In 1753, Colonel Montford married Priscilla Hill,
daughter of Colonel Benjamin Hill, of Bertie County.
There were three children. Henry married Sarah Ed-
wards, but died without offspring. Mary married Willie
Jones; Elizabeth married John Baptista Ashe. These
two won fame in their tilt with Colonel Tarleton in 1781
when the British were encamped at Halifax.
JOHN BAPTISTA ASHE.
John Baptista Ashe was the eldest son of Governor
Samuel Ashe, of Rocky Point, New Hanover County, and
grandson of John Baptista Ashe, who was presiding of-
ficer of the Colonial Assembly in 1727. He was born in
1748. As a young man, he was an enthusiastic admirer
of Governor Tryon and was with him at the Battle of
Alamance in 1771. Later, when the war of Revolution
began, he joined the patriot cause and was at the Battle
of Moore's Creek Bridge in February, 1776. He was ap-
pointed captain in the Sixth Continental Regiment in
April, 1776; major in January, 1777; and Lieutenant-
Colonel in November, 1778. That regiment was, in that
year, consolidated with the first; but when it was sur-
rendered at Charleston in 1780, Colonel Ashe was not
present and so escaped captivity.
152 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
Under the command of General Jethro Sumner, Col-
onel Ashe organized, at Salisbury, another regiment of
Continentals, which did splendid service, under his com-
mand, at the Battle of Eutaw Springs and at other
points in South Carolina. He held this command until
the end of the war.
In 1776, he married Elizabeth Montford, daughter of
Joseph Montford, of Halifax, and thereafter made that
town his home. At the close of the Revoluti-on, he re-
signed his commission in the army and entered heartily
into the business life of the town and county.
Entering politics, he was elected to the House -of Com-
mons in 1784 and again in 1786, and became Speaker of
that body. In 1787, he was a member of the Congress of
the Confederation and State Senator in 1789. He had,
like his brother-in-law, Willie Jones, lopposed the adop-
tion of the Federal Constitution in 1788; but, after the
amendments were practically secured, he favored its
adoption, differing from Jones in that respect.
At the Constitutional Convention of 1789, which met in
Fayetteville, Colonel Ashe was a member from Halifax,
and chairman of the Committee of the Whole, which had
under consideration the Federal Constitution, and pre-
sided over the deliberations of the convention whenever
the constitution was being discussed. He was an enthus-
iastic advocate of its final adoption, and was influential
in securing a favorable vote for it.
At the first election of members of the Federal Con-
gress, Colonel Ashe was chosen to that body and re-
elected in 1791, serving with distinction until 1793. In
1795, he again represented Halifax in the General As-
sembly, but retired to private life after his term of office
expired. In 1802, he was elected Governor of the State,
but when the committee from the General Assembly
came to notify him of his election, they found him des-
perately ill ; and in a few days thereafter he died without
taking the oath of office.
He left one son, Samuel Porter Ashe, whose descend-
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 153
ants live in Tennessee. Colonel Ashe was an anti-Feder-
alist, but later became an advocate >of the Constitution,
and still later a Jeffersonian Democrat.
In many respects, one of the most remarkable men of
the Revolutionary period in North Carolina was Willie
Jones, of Halifax. At one time, and through a number
of years, he exerted more influence than any other man
in the State; and stands out conspicuously as one of the
really noted characters of that day.
The Jones family originally came from Wales to Vir-
ginia about the middle of the seventeenth century. Rob-
ert, or Robin, Jones, third of the name, moved to North
Carolina and became agent for Lord Granville. He was
a lawyer of ability, educated in England where he at-
tracted the attention of Granville, and was appointed
Attorney-General for North Carolina in 1761. By his
profession as attorney for the crown and agent of
Granville's great domain, he rapidly acquired wealth
and became probably the largest landed proprietor on
the Roanoke. He married first Sarah Cobb in 1737 and
was the founder of the Jones family of Halifax and
Allen Jones, who held the rank .of brigadier-general
of State militia during the Revolution, was born Decem-
ber 24, 1739. Strange that the exact date of the birth
of his more distinguished brother, Willie Jones, the sub-
ject of this sketch, is not given ; but it was probably in
1741. Nothing is known of the boyhood and youth of
the two boys, except that they were educated in England
at the celebrated Eton College, where they were under
the charge of Lord Granville. After completing their
education, the brothers returned to North Carolina and
became planters, Allen making his home at "Mt. Gallant,"
154 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
Northamptx)n County, and Willie coming to Halifax about
1763 and building "The Grove" house in Halifax town.
The first appearance of Willie Jones on the political
stage was as a member of the Provincial Congress that
met in Newbern in 1774. He was also a member the next
year when the Congress again met at Newbern, April 3,
1775, and at Hillsboro, August 20. The two meetings of
the Congress in Halifax, April, 1776, ' and November,
1776, were the two most important sessions of that body.
Jones was influential at both sessions. His election to
all .of these conventions, which could not but be regarded
as preliminary to a separation from the mother country,
shows him to have been the leader of the patriot cause in
Halifax County; and his home is said to have been the
meeting place for consultation between the prominent
patriots from every section of the province.
At the Congress of November, 1776, he took a promi-
nent part. He was a member of the committee on privi-
leges and elections and, also, of the committee for draw-
ing up a Bill of Rights and the Constitution. It is said
that these documents were written by Thomas Jones, of
Chowan County, but with the assistance of Willie Jones.
It was said of him that he could draw a bill in better
language than any other man of his day.
The Congress at Halifax organized what was known as
the Council of Safety, consisting of representatives from
each of the five military districts of the State. Willie
Jones was elected president of the Council, and, therefore,
was acting Governor of North Carolina until Richard
Caswell was elected in December, 1776.
At the sessions of the General Assembly of 1776 — 1782
and 1788, he was a member either from the borough of
Halifax or from the county. In 1787, he was elected a
delegate to the convention which met in Philadelphia to
adopt the Constitution of the United States ; but he de-
clined to serve because he was not in sympathy with the
purposes of the Convention. He was a member of the
Continental Congress in 1780.
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 155
One of the most spectacular events in his notable career
was his opposition to the ratification of the national con-
stitution by the Convention at Hillsboro. Jones was the
leader of the opposition, and the manner in which he
conducted the consideration of the measure was master-
ly. When the vote was taken it was found that the
ratification was lost by a vote of 184 to 84. This was his
last appearance as a public man.
He died in 1822 at his summer home near Raleigh and
was buried in his garden, and the location of his grave
has been lost. He has been honored by having a county,
Jones, and a town, Jonesboro, named for him.
Willie Jones married, in 1776, Mary Montford, a daugh-
ter of Joseph Montford, who was a lady of many attrac-
tions and superior qualities. Their children were Anne
Ward, who married Joseph B. Littlejohn ; Sally, who mar-
ried Hutchings G. Burton and, afterwards, Andrew Joy-
ner; Patsy, who married John W. Eppes, and two sons,
Robert Allen and Willie, who died unmarried.
Willie Jones was no orator in the ordinary acceptation
of that term. Though he held the Hillsboro Convention
in the hollow of his hand, he made no speech of more than
a few sentences. He swayed the convention by his person-
al magnetism and his individual influence over the mem-
bers. Feeling sure of his hold upon the convention, he
made motion that the question of ratification be put with-
out discussion, saying that he had made up his mind and
that he supposed others had also, emphasizing the point
that discussion would be a waste of time and an expense
to the State. James Iredell, the leader of the Federalists,
in reply, pointed out that discussion was involved in the
very idea of the convention, and, if it had not been, the
Assembly should have instructed the delegates to vote
at their homes without coming together. Jones had the
good sense to withdraw his motion, and the debate went
on, participated in by Iredell, Davie, Johnston, and Mac-
lain ; but when the vote was taken it was found that Jones'
position was sustained.
156 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
He left a lengthy will which is on record at Halifax,
from which a few extracts are taken :
"Now, as it is possible and indeed probable that my
wife will not be satisfied with the provisions which I have
hereinbefore made for her, and consequently could refuse
to be bound by this very will and claim dower in and a
distribution share in my estate (he then revokes all pro-
visions made in her favor and continues) , and I leave to
my wife to do better for herself, if she can, than I had
hereinbefore done for her. I give to my wife the liberty
of getting firewood for her own use on any of my lands,
except my groves, and they are to be held sacred from
Another provision of his will directs that, if he should
die in Raleigh, he be buried by the side of his little girl
who is buried there ; and, if he should die at Halifax, he be
buried near his little girl in the orchard. About forty
yards north of the site of the "Grove House" is a little
thicket in which is the grave of the little child that is men-
One other peculiarity of the will gives a trait of his char-
acter: "My family and friends are not to mourn my
death even by a black rag; on the contrary I give to my
wife and three daughters each a Quaker colored silk to
make them hoods on the occasion,"
With all of his peculiarities, Willie Jones was a remark-
able man, and the county has not seen his like again.
WILLIAM R. DAVIE.
Though acting such a prominent part in the history of
the State and Nation, William Richardson Davie was not
born on Carolina soil. He was born at Egremont, Cum-
berland County, England, June 24, 1756. He was brought
to America by his father Archibald Davie in 1763 and
left in charge of his maternal uncle, Rev. William Rich-
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 157
ardson, a Presbyterian minister residing in the Wax-
hans settlement, in South Carolina. Having no children,
Mr. Richardson adopted the boy and made him heir to his
estate. He was sent to school at the Queen's Museum,
Charlotte, N. C, and afterwards to Princeton College,
then in charge of Dr. Witherspoon.
In the summer of 1776, he served with a party of stu-
dents in the American army, and in the fall returned to
college and took the degree of Bachelor of Arts with the
first honors. His uncle died before Davie's return to
the State. Having selected the law as his profession, he
began its study in Salisbury. In 1777, he joined a de-
tachment of 1200 troops under the command of Allen
Jones, ordered to the defense of Charlotte; but the at-
tack on that city being abandoned by the enemy, the de-
tachment returned after reaching Camden. In 1779, he
joined a troop of cavalry raised in the Salisbury district,
of which William Barnett was elected captain and Davie,
lieutenant. The troop soon after joined the Southern
army and was attached to Pulaski's Legion.
For distinguished service in the field, Davie was suc-
cessfully promoted to the rank of captain and later to that
of major. He took part in the Battle of Stono, in which he
was severely wounded, which disabled him from any fur-
ther service that year. While recuperating from his
wound he secured his license to practice law ; but in 1780,
he answered again the call to arms, and, having obtained
leave of the General Assembly, he raised a troop of cav-
alry and two companies of infantry, equipping them out
of his own funds derived from his uncle's estate.
While in command of this troop. Major Davie took a
brilliant part in several encounters. He arrived with his
command after the defeat of the Tories at Ramseur's Mill,
and was dispatched by General Rutherford in pursuit
of the fugitives. He took an active part in the Battle of
Hanging Rock, of which there is a good narrative in
Davie's own words in Wheeler's History of North Caro-
lina. After the Battle of Hanging Rock, Major Davie car-
158 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
ried his wounded to Charlotte for surgical attention and
set out to join the army of General Gates at Rugeley's
Mill. When he came within a few miles of Camden,
S. C, he met General Gates himself in full retreat. Gates
ordered Davie to fall back to Charlotte, saying that Tarle-
ton's dragoons were in pursuit and would soon be upon
them. Davie's reply was characteristic. He said, "My
men are accustomed to Tarleton and do not fear him."
He then hurried on toward Camden. Meeting General
Huger soon after, Davie asked him how far Gates' orders
should be obeyed. Huger answered,"Just as far as you
choose, for you will never see him again." Finding the
rout complete. Major Davie retraced his steps and took
post at Charlotte.
On September 20, 1780, Davie having been promoted
to the rank of Colonel with instructions to raise a regi-
ment .of cavalry, with 150 dragoons fell upon about 400
of the enemy at Wahab's Plantation and routed them,
killing and wounding about 60 and capturing ninety-six
horses and 120 stands of arms. This remarkable feat of
arms was accomplished after a ride of sixty miles, and
all done within twenty-four hours. Shortly after this he
was joined by Sumner and Davidson with about 1000
poorly equipped militia.
When Cornwallis advanced on Charlotte, September 26,
1780, Colonel Davie had only 150 mounted men with him
and a few volunteers under Major Graham. Posting one
company near the Court House, where the men would be
sheltered by a stone wall, and two others where they were
sheltered by dwellings, he repulsed three attacks of the
British and held his ground until he was outflanked and
was forced to retreat. The coolness and skill of Colonel
Davie, in this affair, in which with a handful of men, he
kept the whole British army at bay for hours, have been
highly praised. After the disastrous defeat at King's
Mountain, Cornwallis retired into South Carolina follow-
ed by Davie's command, that harassed his rear guards no
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 159
In December, 1780, General Nathanael Greene took
command of the Southern army at Charlotte. Greene at
once appointed Davie Commissary-General, which he ac-
cepted with reluctance because he regretted leaving act-
ive military service, and began his new duties in January,
1781. He was with the army of the South for five months,
being present at the Battles of Guilford Court House,
Hobkirk's Hill, the evacuation of Camden, and the Siege
of Ninety-Six. In the summer of 1781, Colonel Davie was
sent by General Greene as a confidential messenger to
the General Assembly of North Carolina for the purpose
of representing the wants of his army, a mission, which
he, by reason of his tact and knowledge of the members,
successfully accomplished, securing a liberal contribution
of men and supplies.
In July, 1781, he became Commissary-General of North
Carolina with headquarters at Halifax, which position
he held until the close of the war. During this period,
the credit of the State had fallen so low that Davie was
obliged to pledge his individual credit in order to ob-
tain supplies. It was during this period also that the
Roanoke lands furnished supplies for nearly the whole of
After the close of the war. Colonel Davie, in February,
1783, resumed the practice of law and located in the town
of Halifax, and about the same time married Sarah Jones,
the daughter of General Allen Jones, of Mount Gallant,
There were seven judicial districts in the State at that
time and Colonel Davie practiced law in all of them ex-
cept the Morganton district. He was a brilliant advo-
cate and soon built up a large and lucrative practice. It
was said of him that, in the fifteen years he was at the
bar, there was not a capital case in the State in which he
was not retained by the defense. One of the most famous of
the capital cases, in which he appeared, was the trial of
the celebrated Tory, Colonel Samuel Bryan, for treason,
at Salisbury. Davie and Bryan had been enemies on the
160 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
battlefield. They had met in mortal conflict at Hanging
Rock. Davie had done all that he could to destroy Bryan
and his command; but now, peace had come and Davie
was employed by Bryan to defend him. True to his client,
Davie left no stone unturned to clear him; but the pre-
judice against the Tory was too great and Bryan was
convicted. Later, however, he was pardoned by the Gov-
In 1787, Davie was a delegate from North Carolina to
the Constitutional Convention, which met in Philadelphia,
in May, to prepare a Federal instrument of government.
He was then thirty-one years old, but, by his eloquence
and knowledge, made a decided impression upon the con-
vention. A critical question before the convention was
the equal representation of the large and small states in
the Senate, the large states contending for representa-
tion according to population and the small states for equal
representation. North Carolina was then one of the large
states. In order to avoid a disruption of the Convention, a
committee of one from each state was appointed to de-
cide the question, and Davie was appointed as the mem-
ber of that committee from North Carolina. In this mat-
ter. Colonel Davie voted with the small states, and, by a
majority of one, secured for the small states equal repre-
sentation in the senate. He left the Convention a few
days before adjournment in obedience to the call of a
client, and for that reason his name does not appear
among the signers of that document.
He was active in the State Convention of 1788, at Hills-
boro, in advocacy of the ratification of the Federal Con-
stitution, but it was defeated then under the leadership of
Willie Jones. After the Constitution was ratified at Fay-
etteville the next year. President Washington tendered
Colonel Davie the appointment of District Judge, but it
He represented the borough of Halifax in the House of
Commons in 1786, 1787, 1789, 1791, 1798, 1794, 1796, and
1798. While a member of the General Assembly, he la-
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 161
bored unceasingly for the establishment of the State Uni-
versity, and finally secured the act of incorporation in
1789. He was the real founder of that great institution,
and as Grand Master of Masons of North Carolina laid the
corner stone of the first building in 1793.
In view of the probability of war with France, Colonel
Davie was appointed by Governor Spaight, in 1794,
Major-General of the third State division of militia; and,
in 1798, Congress having provided a provisional army of
10,000 men, he was appointed by President Adams Brig-
adier-General and confirmed by the Senate on July 1,
1798. In the same year, he was elected Governor and in-
augurated, December 27.
On June 1, 1799, he was appointed by President Adams
Ambassador to France, and, on September 10, resigned
the governorship to accept this foreign post of duty. He
was one of the three men to draw up a treaty with the
French government, which was ratified by Congress,
September 10, 1800. General Davie was the most dis-
tinguished looking man in that trio of eminent men. An
eyewitness of the meeting of the American embassy with
the French Emperor said, "I could but remark that Bona-
parte, in addressing the American Legation at his Levees,
seemed to forget that Governor Davie was second in the
mission, his attention being more particularly to him."
General Davie returned from France in 1801, and, in
1802, he was appointed by President Jefferson Commis-
sioner on the part of the United States government for
the settlement of the affairs between the State of North
Carolina and the Tuscarora Indians. He met the agents
of the State and the Indian Chiefs at Raleigh, and the
treaty was signed December 4, 1802, by virtue of which
the remnant of the Tuscaroras, who had continued to hold
their lands in the "Indian Woods," removed to New York
in June, 1803.
In the spring of 1803, General Davie was prevailed
upon to become a candidate for Congress against Willis
Alston, who had recently abandoned the Federalist party
162 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
and had become a disciple of Thomas Jefferson. Davie
made no canvass, but party spirit ran high. He was
charged with being an aristocrat and being opposed to
Jefferson, and on election day he was defeated. This was
his last appearance in a public capacity.
Having lost his wife, soon after his return from France
and having met defeat at the polls, he retired altogether
from public life. In November, 1805, he removed from
Halifax to Tivoli, an estate he had in South Carolina just
across the line, where he spent the remainder of his life in
ease and dignity.
In his retirement, however, he was not forgotten by his
countrymen. He was appointed by President Madison
Major-General in the United States army during the War
of 1812 and confirmed by the senate, March 2, 1813 ; but
he declined the appointment.
General Davie died November 18, 1820, and was buried
at Waxhaw Churchyard just across the river from his
plantation. Governor Gaston, of South Carolina, who is
said to have written his epitaph, called him "a great man
in an age of great men."
His memory is perpetuated by the name of one of the
counties in the State and by the name of a poplar on the
campus of the State University.
James Hogan was prominent in North Carolina history
during the Revolution; but there is very little known
about his early life. He was born in Ireland, but the date
and place are unknown. Nor is it known when he came to
the New World. He was a scion of that sturdy Irish
stock that was restive under British domination, and
had come to America to escape its tyranny. It is not
known when he came to North Carolina, but he found
his way to Halifax County, in early life, and made his
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 163
home about two miles from the present town of Hob-
good. In October 3, 1751, he was married to Ruth Nor-
fleet, a young woman of that section of Halifax County.
When the Provincial Congress met in Halifax, April
4, 1776, James Hogan appeared as one of the delegates
from the county. He was enthusiastically in favor of the
resolution for independence passed by that body on
April 12. He was again a delegate to the Provincial
Congress and Constitutional Convention that met in
Halifax, November 12, 1776. But early in that session,
he was elected Colonel of the Seventh North Carolina
Continental Regiment; and at once resigned member-
ship in the Congress.
After the organization of the regiment, and after be-
ing disciplined in the school of the soldier at Halifax^
Colonel Hogan led his troops northward, along with
other regiments that had been mobilized at Halifax,
and joined General Washington in time to take part in
the battles of Brandywine and Germantown. After
these two disastrous battles, Washington dispatched
Colonel Hogan to North Carolina to raise reinforce-
ments. Having established a recruiting station at Hali-
fax, Hogan soon had another regiment of 600 men un-
der arms. He led them North and joined Washington
at Valley Forge. He was with the Army of the North
during 1778 and 1779.
When General Robert Howe was promoted to the
rank of Major-General, the General Assembly of North
Carolina recommended Colonel Thomas Clark, of New-
bern, for the vacancy; but General Washington said
that Hogan, on account of his conspicuous gallantry at
Germantown, was entitled to the honor. He was, there-
fore, elected and commissioned brigadier-general, Janu-
ary 9, 1779, and continued to serve with the Army of the
North, his brigade consisting of the four North Carolina
regiments then with General Washington.
In February, 1780, the tide of war having rolled south-
ward, Hogan's brigade was sent to the relief of General
164 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
Lincoln at Charleston, S. C. The brigade passed through
Halifax on its long march from Philadelphia to Charles-
ton, and reached its destination in April, finding that Gen-
eral Lincoln was shut up in Charleston with less than
twelve hundred men, Hogan joined him with about fif-
teen hundred regulars, but he was unable to restore con-
fidence. Lincoln surrendered, May 12; and with one
stroke of bad fortune, General Hogan and nearly the
whole of the North Carolina Continentals became prison-
ers of war. Of the 1800 regulars, surrendered at this
time, the North Carolina line numbered over 1200. With
the exception of some officers, who were at home on fur-
lough and several troops of militia, the entire fighting-
force of North Carolina was put out of the conflict. Hali-
fax County was struck hard by this blow.
General Hogan and his brigade were imprisoned at
Haddrell's Point, S. C, near the present location of the
town of Mount Pleasant. There, Hogan and his brigade
endured extreme suffering on account of the lack of food
and the ravages of disease. Even permission to fish was
denied the men thus imprisoned, and they were more than
once threatened with deportation to the West Indies. Once
was General Hogan offered a parole to return home ; but
seeing the misery of his men, he indignantly refused the
parole unless the rank and file were to have the same
At that point, General Hogan disappears from history.
It is certain that he died in this prison camp at Haddrell's
Point, and now lies buried, probably, where the busy feet
of the people of Mount Pleasant go tramping over his
remains. Chief Justice Clark says, "History affords no
more striking incident of devotion to duty, and North
Carolina should erect a tablet to his memory and of those
who perished there with him."
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 165
Another man, who has left an impress upon the coun-
ty and yet is comparatively unknown, is Samuel Weldon,
in honor of whom the town of Weldon is named. The
place and date of his birth are unknown ; but he became
prominent in the affairs of Halifax soon after the forma-
tion of the county in 1758.
In 1776, the Provincial Congress, in session in Halifax,
elected Weldon Major of the county militia. On Dec. 23,
1776, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel,
and, on April 24, 1778, he became Colonel. His rapid pro-
motion would indicate ability and popularity. This last
rank, he was, soon afterward, forced to resign on account
of ill health. He retired to his farm on the Roanoke river
near where the present tov/n of Weldon is.
He was a member of the Provincial Congress of 1776,
that met in Halifax, and it is known that he exercised in-
fluence of note in that body. For some years he held the
position of Justice of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Ses-
sions. Not much else is known of his public services. His
will was probated in 1782.
John Haywood was born in Halifax County, March 16,
1762. He was a son of Egbert Haywood, an officer of the
Revolution and a representative from the County in the
Provincial Congress of November, 1776, being elected to
fill the vacancy caused by the appointment of James Ho-
gan Colonel of the Seventh Regiment of Continentals. He
also represented the county in the House of Commons in
But little is known of the early life of John Haywood.
166 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
He was but thirteen years old when the war of indepen-
dence began, and, on account of his youth, took no active
part in the struggle that followed. Near the close of the
war, however, young Haywood became attached to the
ptaff of a North Carolina officer, though the name of the
officer is unknown. Wheeler, in his "Reminiscences," has
the following to say of him :
"From the distracted condition of the country, at this
time, the opportunities to acquire an education were few ;
but young Haywood entered the profession of the law, in
which he was destined to become distinguished, under
many disadvantages. To the lack of a systematic educa-
tion was added an ungainly person and an unpleasantly
harsh voice. Possessing, however, great determination,
an ardent love of study, and a lofty ambition, he overcame
those disadvantages, and soon rose to the head of the
In many of his legal battles, he was often pitted against
William R. Davie. Chief-Justice Walter Clark has this
to say in an address delivered some years ago : "It is stat-
ed of him (Davie), in comparison with his great legal ri-
val, John Haywood, that while the latter carefully pre-
pared every point, Davie would size the strong points of
the case and throw his whole strength upon them."
His success as a lawyer was shown by his election, in
1791, as Attorney-General of the State, when he was not
yet thirty years old. He held this position until 1794
when he was elected Judge of the Superior Court to suc-
ceed Samuel Spencer, deceased. In both of these positions
of trust and responsibility, Haywood displayed unusual
ability and efficiency.
In 1800, however, his career on the bench was terminat-
ed in a remarkable way. James Glasgow, Secretary of
State, was indicted for issuing fraudulent land warrants.
The indictment was drawn by Attorney-General Blake
Baker, a native of Halifax but at that time living in Edge-
combe County. In drawing the bill of indictment, Baker
sought the counsel of Haywood. Before the trial came
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 167
oif, Glasgow approached Haywood with a retainer's fee
of one thousand dollars. Judge Haywood at once resigned
his position on the bench and accepted Glasgow's offer. In
the trial, however, Glasgow was convicted ; but Haywood
moved an arrest of judgment alleging thirteen errors in
the bill of indictment, which he had assisted the attorney-
general to formulate.
On account of his conduct in this case, Haywood be-
came the victim of a torrent of criticism. While there
was no moral turpitude in what he did, the public never
forgave him for what seemed so. Shortly afterward, he
removed to Tennessee and settled on a farm near Nash-
ville, where he lived and died.
During his residence in Halifax County, he lived near
Crowell's, where he taught a law school. His memory is
perpetuated by Haywood's Chapel because he gave the
land on which the church was built. After leaving Hali-
fax, Haywood resided for some years in Franklin Coun-
ty about six miles north of Louisburg. Just before mov-
ing to Tennessee, he lived in Raleigh.
In Tennessee, Haywood began almost a new career.
He soon became one of the leading lawyers of that new
State. Often he was matched with Felix Grundy, one of
the most noted ^ orators of the west, and he always ap-
peared to good advantage. He continued at the bar in
Tennessee, building up a lucrative practice until 1812,
when he was elevated to the Superior Court bench. Six
years later he became Judge of the Supreme Court of
Tennessee, and held that position until his death in 1826.
Judge Haywood's memory is perpetuated in Tennessee
by the name of one of the Counties in that State. Hay-
wood County, North Carolina, is named in honor of John
Haywood, of Edgecombe County, for forty years State
168 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COL^^TY
Joseph John Alston, father of the subject of this sketch,
came to Halifax County about the year 1730. He came
from what is now Gates County, where his father, John
Alston lived. Later he married a daughter of Willis Wil-
son, of Norfolk, Va., and from that union was born, in
1750, Willis Alston, usually referred to as Willis Alston.
St., to distinguish him from his more celebrated son of
the same name.
Willis Alston was a strong and sturdy character. He
early became a leader among his neighbors and friends
and even in his teens, he was a champion of the rights of
Americans against the growing tyranny of England. Dur-
ing the Stamp Act troubles and the discontent over the
tea tax, Alston was an undaunted patriot for one so young.
When the Provincial Congress met in Halifax, April 4.
1776, he was a member from the county, and took an active
part in the passage of the famous independence resolution,
which has been read around the world. He was also a
member of the Constitutional Convention of November
12, 1776, and was an important factor in the framing of
the first State Constitution.
Upon the organization of the State militia at the ses-
sion of the Provincial Congress that met in Halifax at the
same time with the Constitutional Convention, Willis Als-
ton was elected Colonel ; Samuel Weldon, Lieutenant-Colo-
nel ; John Whitaker, First Major ; James Allen, Second
Major. Alston, however, resigned in 1778 and was suc-
ceeded by Weldon.
There is no record of the war service of Willis Alston
more than the bare mention of his election as Colonel of
the Halifax regiment. It is more than probable that this
regiment was used throughout the war as a garrison for
the town of Halifax and saw no active service in battle.
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 169
WILLIS ALSTON, JR.
Willis Alston, son of the first of the name, was born on
his father's farm, in the upper part of the county, in 1770.
He was given as liberal an education as the exigencies of
the times would permit. In spite of disadvantages along
that line, by close application and diligent study, he be-
came one of the best informed men of his day.
He early turned his attention to politics, and, in 1790,
when he was just twenty-one years of age, he was elected
to the House of Commons, and served in that body during
the sessions of 1790, 1791, and 1792. In 1794, he was
elected to the Senate and served in that branch of the
General Assembly two years. Again, having served many
years in Congress, he returned to the House of Commons
in 1819 and again in 1820, 1821, 1823, and 1824.
Alston early became an earnest admirer of Thomas
Jefferson and an ardent disciple. As a Republican (Dem-
ocrat), he was elected to the Federal Congress in 1799,
and was biennially reelected until 1815, when he retired
from Congress for ten years and was again elected in 1825,
serving until 1831.
In 1803, he was opposed for re-election to Congress by
William R. Davie, who had recently returned from France.
It was thought that the great popularity of Davie would
win the election; but the result showed a majority for
Alston. This was, perhaps, his greatest political triumph.
During the agitation preceding the war of 1812, Alston
was distinctly a war advocate, because he thought Eng-
land had violated every right of nations.
Willis Alston was married twice, first to Pattie Moore,
of Halifax County, and second to Sallie Madeline Potts, of
Wilmington. There were no children of the first mar-
riage, but of the second the following were born : Charles
J. P., who married Mary Janet Clark, whose oldest son is
Dr. Willis Alston, of Littleton; Ariellah, who married
170 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
Colonel James B. Hawkins ; Leonidas ; Missouri, who mar-
ried Archibald Davis Alston; and Edgar. Willis Alston
died in Halifax, April 10, 1837. He served in the Federal
Congress longer than any other man from Halifax County,
and, while not brilliant, he was a safe and wise represen-
Nicholas Long, the founder of the Long family of
Halifax County, came to North Carolina when a young
man and settled near what is now the town of Halifax.
The exact date of his coming to the county is unknown,
and the date and place of his birth are likewise obscure.
Shortly after coming to Halifax, Long built his country
home, "Quanky," which was just across Quanky Creek
from the "Grove House."
He is mentioned in Wheeler's "Reminiscences" as being
a wealthy planter and his home as being the headquarters
for prominent men who from time to time visited Hali-
fax. It is said that, when President Washington visited
Halifax on his tour of the South, he stopped with Colonel
Long for several days. In similar ways the reputation of
"Quanky" came to be more than State wide.
Before John Harvy issued his call for the first Provin-
cial Congress to meet in Newbern, August 24, 1774, he
came to Halifax to consult with Willie Jones and Nicholas
Long. Both Jones and Long were at the time members
of the Provincial Assembly ; and when the Congress was
called, they were elected members and served in the
double capacity at Newbern. Long was also a member of
the Second Provincial Congress at Newbern the next year
and also at Hillsboro. At the latter Congress, the State
was divided into military districts, each district to raise
and equip five hundred men. Nicholas Long was ap-
pointed Colonel of the Halifax district.
A grant of land was made to Robert Long in Halifax
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 171
County, but it is not known whether he was an ancestor
of Nicholas Long. The grant is dated 1725.
Later, in the progress of the struggle for independence,
each county was empowered to raise and arm a regiment
of minute men, and the position of Commissary-General
of the State forces was created. Colonel Long was chosen
to this latter position. He personally superintended, to-
gether with his wife, the work shops on his own farm for
the purpose of manufacturing implements of war, ammu-
nition, clothing, and other supplies for the soldiers.
Mrs. Long possessed great energy and firmness with
mental power of no common order. Her praises were the
theme of conversation among the officers, who knew her.
She died at the advanced age of eighty leaving a numer-
Colonel Long held the position of Commissary-General
of the State troops until 1781, when he resigned and was
succeeded by William R. Davie. The last public service
he rendered, of which we have any record, was in the sen-
ate the sessions of 1785 and 1786. As a legislator, or sol-
dier, or planter, Colonel Long proved his worth and has
left a worthy name to his numerous descendants.
Very little is known of the early life of the subject of
this sketch. He lived in that portion of the county near
the old Conocanara Church. Receiving a limited educa-
tion, he became a lawyer and practiced in the courts of the
Halifax Judicial District, just before and during the Rev-
He was a member of the State Senate four consecutive
terms, 1778, 1779, 1780, 1781. He was a man of consider-
able influence and strength of character as is shown by
the commanding position he took in the General Assem-
bly. When the Board of War was created in 1781 to direct
the war in North Carolina, Davis was elected as a mem-
172 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
ber of the Board. The other two members were Alexan-
der Martin, who afterwards became Governor, and John
Penn, one of the signers of the Declaration of Indepen-
On account of the fact that the Board of War did not
have its duties clearly defined, it was in frequent collision
with the Governor on questions of jurisdiction, and was
soon discontinued. General Davie, who had business be-
fore the Board several times without its being settled to
his satisfaction, severely criticised the personnel of it. He
said, in speaking of it :
"Nothing could be more ridiculous than the manner in
which it (the Board) was filled. Martin, being a war-
rior- (?) of great fame, was placed at its head. Penn, who
was only fit to amuse children, and Davis, who knows
nothing but a game of whist, were placed on the Board."
General Davie was no doubt prejudiced, but the Board
was soon afterwards discontinued and Davis retired to
Only fragments of information regarding John Brad-
ford have come down to us. He was one of the early set-
tlers in the Enfield section, and built a home about two
miles southwest of that town. He was living there at the
time the county was organized in 1758, and had command-
ing influence in shaping its policies. He was a man of
natural ability and high character.
In 1766, he was elected to represent the county in the
Colonial Assembly and re-elected in 1767, and 1768. He
was, therefore, a member of the law-making body of the
Province during a very critical period of its existence. The
third Provincial Congress at Hillsboro, in August, 1775,
appointed John Bradford a member of the Committee of
Safety for the District of Halifax. He served in that ca-
pacity as long as there was need for the services of such
a committee. In 1776, he was a member of both sessions
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 173
of the Provincial Congress that met at Halifax. The next
year he was elected to represent Halifax County in the
State Senate, as the first from the County.
After the close of the Revolution, he was the Presiding
Justice of the County Court, and held this position many
years. He died about 1786 and left a number of children,
one of them, Henry, became a minister and gave his name
to Bradford's Church. Most of his descendants left the
County and went South.
JOHN PAUL JONES.
The most famous man connected with the history of
Halifax County is John Paul Jones, the Revolutionary
hero, who won the title of "Father of the American Navy,"
He was born in Kirkbean, Scotland, July 6, 1747, and died
in Paris, France, July 18, 1792. He was the youngest son
of John Paul, a gardener, and was christened John Paul,
the same name as his father ; but after coming to Amer-
ica, for reasons that are apparent, he added the surname
Jones. His mother was Jean Macduff, the daughter of a
Having lived near the sea during his boyhood days, it
was natural that he should follow life on the sea. He
began early, being apprenticed at the age of twelve to a
ship owner, and by the time he was a little beyond man's
estate he had sailed all over the North Atlantic in trading,
smuggling, and slaving vessels, and had climbed to the
top of his calling, the Captain's berth.
In the meantime, his brother William had settled in Vir-
ginia, on the banks of the Rappahannock river as man-
ager of the estate of William Jones, from whom William
Paul, it is said, had inherited some land. William Paul
died in 1773, and John Paul came to Virginia that year to
take charge of his brother's property.
Previous to that time, John Paul had met with varied ex-
periences on the sea. He had, in the spring of 1770, flogged
174 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
a mutinous carpenter on board the merchant ship, John,
of which he was master. Shortly after the flogging,
which was light, the man died and John Paul had to face
the charge of having caused his death. He was, however,
acquitted. Soon after this occurrence, a mutiny broke out
among the crew of the John, and John Paul, in defending
himself from them, was forced to kill their leader. On ac-
count of this unfortunate circumstance, he was obliged
to resign his position as master of the trader. Then it was
he came to Virginia.
In the Mentor Magazine of October 16, 1916, the follow-
ing paragraphs, in connection with John Paul Jones oc-
"One day in the early part of the year 1775, Willie
Jones, a planter of North Carolina, came into the little
town of Halifax from his estate, and found a young man
sitting on a bench in front of the tavern, who seemed to
be in the deepest throes of melancholy.
'What is your name?' he asked him.
T have none', was the answer.
'Where is your home?' he asked.
'I have none', was the reply.
"He then talked with him a little further, and invited
him to share his home. The dejected stranger was none
other than John Paul, who later took the name of Jones
with the permission of Willie Jones ; and from that time
on he used the name of John Paul Jones. Later he dropped
his first name and used simply Paul Jones on his visiting
At the "Grove," it is supposed, John Paul Jones so-
journed for a year or more, and was treated with the
greatest courtesy. It was here that he became acquainted
with Joseph Hewes, who was a delegate from North Car-
olina to the Continental Congress, and served on what is
now called the Naval Committee. The two immediately
became intimate friends, and Hewes used his influence in
having John Paul Jones commissioned in the Continental
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 17,>
Navy as an officer. Later, by the same influence, he be-
came Captain of the United States Gunboat Ranger.
Although John Paul Jones was identified with Halifax
but a short time, his sudden rise to eminence is traceable
directly to his association with Willie Jones and through
him with Joseph Hewes. All he needed was, at the psy-
chological moment, to be brought to the attention of
Congress and to be given an opportunity to display his
wonderful talent. To Willie Jones and Joseph Hewes be-
long the credit of having been chiefly instrumental in do-
ing this. To those two eminent North Carolinians is given
the honor of having "discovered" John Paul Jones.
Reference has already been made, in this work, to the
splendid achievements of John Paul Jones. His brilliant
victories on the ocean together with his illuminating views
as to the building and equipping of a defensive and an ag-
gressive fleet have justly won for him the title of "Father
of the American Navy." He was worthy of all the honor
that came to him and more. Of natural brightness of in-
tellect, of pleasing manners, and of tireless application,
he had made himself an accomplished man of the world.
With little advantage of an education in the schools, he
taught himself until he could speak French as his mother
tongue, and was equally at ease in Spanish.
His daring, his defiance of great odds, his harassing of
the British commerce, his capture of numerous prizes, his
influence in securing France as an ally, all make a thrill-
ing story that leads us to see what a capable man he was
and what a wonderful genius Halifax County gave to the
After the Revolution, he was at different times in the
service of the Prussian government and of Russia. His
last days were spent in France, where he died and was
buried. After lying in French soil for more than one hun-
dred years, his body was disinterred in 1905 and brought
to America. It now rests in a crypt in the Chapel of the
Naval Academy at Annapolis.
Albert Bushnell Hart, the eminent American historian,
has the following to say in praise of John Paul Jones :
176 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
"Jones was still a young man, barely forty-five years
old, at the time of his death ; and his meteoric career was
compressed into the fourteen years between 1775 and
1789. For the paling of his glory in later years, he was
in part to blame. His killing of the mutineer threw a
cloud upon his early life. He was gay, extravagant, over
fond of the ladies, and often in money difficulties. Be-
ginning so young, shooting up so rapidly, he made ene-
mies that followed him to the end. A man as eager, as
adventurous, as impetuous as John Paul Jones was bound
to outrun cooler and more sagacious men like Franklin
and John Adams.
"Against these faults is to be set the amazing bril-
liancy of Jones's character and deeds. His successes were
not those of a dashing adventurer who took all the chances
and was usually lucky in winning. Jones's splendid re-
sults came from his careful preparation, his personal in-
terest in his men, his ability to execute naval manoeuvers
at the precise moment. He was a naval genius also in his
constructive plans. Throughout his life, Jones showed a
wonderful spirit of organization. He was one of the first
men to suggest a plan for the systematic building and use
of the American Navy, which would have been much to
the advantage of the nation had it been followed."
Abraham Hodge was born in the State of New York in
1755 and died in Halifax, August 3, 1805. During the
Revolution he conducted the Whig press of Samuel Lon-
don of New York. For a time, he was in charge of Wash-
ington's traveling press while the army was stationed at
Valley Forge. He was thus employed, during those dark
days, in disseminating Republican principles and cheering
the drooping spirits of his countrymen.
Soon after the close of hostilities, he came to Halifax
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 177
County and established a printing office; and in 1784 or
1785, he was elected public printer by the General As-
sembly. He held that position until 1798 and discharged
the duties of the office with ability and satisfaction. Dur-
ing that time, Hodge conducted his printing plant at Hali-
fax, and at the same time had presses in Fayetteville,
Newbern, and Edenton. July 23, 1793, he began, at Hali-
fax, the publication of the North Carolina Journal, a news-
paper that reflected the Federalist views of government.
The State was Jeffersonian, and Halifax County particu-
larly so at the time. Hodge was, therefore, displaced as
public printer in 1798 and Joseph Gales elected to succeed
Undaunted, however, by this political rebuke, Hodge
continued to edit his newspaper, the North Carolina Jour-
nal, as his conscience dictated, and the interests of the
State, in his opinion, required. He was conspicuous as a
man of natural ability and of acquired learning. He was
one of the first men in the State to contribute to the
library of the University of North Carolina, and there-
after until his death he was regular in his gifts to it.
Some months before his demise in 1805, he made a will
in which he made his partner, William Boylan, his execu-
tor, and bequeathed to him his printing plants and other
property. Hodge had been public printer for fifteen years
previous to 1798, and had otherwise done a great work.
He had three printing plants in the State, and was editor
of one of the most influential newspapers in the South, the
North Carolina Journal, published at Halifax.
John Branch was born November 4, 1782, about two
and a half miles northwest of Enfield, on what is still
known as the Branch plantation. His father, also named
John, took an active part in the Revolution, and was spe-
178 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
cially vigilant in running down the few Tories in the
county. While sheriff of the county, in 1776, he took two
Tories to Smithfield before the Council of Safety for trial.
He also represented the county in the House of Commons
in 1781, 1782, 1787, and 1788.
But little is known of the boyhood of John Branch.
After being prepared for college, he entered the Univer-
sity of North Carolina, from which he graduated in 1801.
During his college career, he became well acquainted with
Thomas H. Benton, the great North Carolinian who rose
to eminence in Missouri, and who was an alumnus of the
University of North Carolina. Benton, in his "Thirty
Years in Congress," says: "I was particularly grieved at
this breach between Mr. Branch and the President, having
known him from boyhood, been school-fellows together,
and being well acquainted with his inviolable honor, and
long and faithful attachment to General Jackson."
Branch's first appearance in public life was in the State
Senate in 1811. He was again chosen to that body in 1813,
where he served continuously until 1817, and again in
1822. In 1817, he was elected Governor of the State and
served the constitutional term of three years.
He carried the simplicity of his early life into the Ex-
ecutive Mansion. Once, during his term as Governor, a
stranger rang the bell. Governor Branch, dressed in a
suit of homespun jeans, answered the call. Upon inquir-
ing for the Governor, the stranger was greatly astonished
when informed that he was speaking to him. He was an
educational governor of the early days. He was alive to the
importance of a public school system, and, in his message
to the General Assembly in 1819, he urged the appropria-
tion of means to that end. He was, however, disappoint-
ed, for it was several years later before the public schools
became an actuality. Upon his retirement from the office
of Governor, President Monroe tendered him the office of
Judge of the district of the Territory of Florida, which he
In 1822, while a member of the State Senate, he was
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 179
elected United States Senator, the only time the county
has ever had that honor, and was re-elected in 1828.
While in the Senate, Branch differed with his colleague,
Nathaniel Macon, on the question of internal improve-
ments, and voted for an appropriation to build the Dismal
Swamp Canal while Macon voted against it. Branch, how-
ever, was on the winning side.
Soon after his entrance upon his second term as sen-
ator, he was tendered by President Jackson the portfolio
of Secretary of the Navy, which he accepted. John H.
Eaton, at that time living in Tennessee but a native of
Halifax County, was made Secretary of War. Thus, there
was the singular coincidence of two natives of Halifax
County being in the President's cabinet at the same time.
President Jackson's cabinet was disrupted in a singular
way, and, as two Halifax County men were closely identi-
fied with the incident, it is here related. Secretary Eaton
had married a widow Timberlake, about whom there were
some uncomplimentary rumors. As a consequence of
these rumors, she was not received in the best circles of
Washington. President Jackson was an intimate personal
friend of Secretary Eaton and noticed the snubs that Mrs.
Eaton was receiving. He, therefore, undertook to have
the social ostracism removed. He sent R. M. Johnston^
of Kentucky, to Secretary Branch to express to him that
the President thought the rumors regarding Mrs. Eaton,
were untrue, and intimated a wish that Branch might use
his influence in Mrs. Eaton's favor.
Branch resented the effort of the President to influence
his social relations, and at once tendered his resignation.
His example was immediately followed by the other mem-
bers of the Cabinet. President Jackson thus found that
his diplomacy in social matters was not equal to his skill
on the battlefield. Even Martin Van Buren, the Secretary
of State, who was only remotely connected with the affair,
left the cabinet.
After his return home from Washington, Branch wrote
several articles for the Roanoke Advocate, published at
180 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
Halifax, explaining his connection with the affair, and
thereby strengthened himself with the people. At the
time of his retirement from the cabinet, the campaign was
on for the nomination of a member of Congress. Jesse A.
Bynum, of Halifax, was a candidate for the nomination,
but there was a feeling that Branch ought to be nomi-
nated. Bynum, therefore, retired from the contest and
Branch was nominated and elected to the Congress of
In 1834, Branch was again elected to the State Senate.
In 1835, he and Joseph J. Daniel represented the county in
the Constitutional Convention, held that year in Raleigh.
On motion of Branch, Nathaniel Macon, of Warren
County, was chosen President of the Convention. Both
he and Daniel voted against the amendment to elect the
Governor by the people instead of by the General As-
sembly. When the amendment to abolish the borough
system came up. Branch voted in favor of it, but Daniel
opposed it. Both were in favor of abolishing the religious
restrictions in the constitution.
Later, when the new instrument of government was
submitted to the people for ratification, the vote of Hali-
fax County was 239 for and 441 against ratification. The
vote of the State was 26,771 to 21,606 in favor of the new
constitution. This was the first change in the Constitu-
tion since its adoption in 1776, which shows the conserva-
tism of the people of North Carolina.
In 1838 Branch was the Democratic candidate against
Edward B. Dudley, the Whig candidate, for Governor.
Dudley was elected. Branch's defeat may have been
brought about by his course in the Constitutional Con-
vention of 1835. It was his last appearance before the
people as a candidate for office. In 1843, he was appoint-
ed by President Tyler to the position of Governor of the
Territory of Florida, and, after the expiration of his term
of office, he retired to private life.
He died at Enfield, January 4, 1863, and is buried at
the family cemetery near that town. He was married
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 181
twice, first to Miss Fort and second to Mrs. Bond. He left
a large family of children, whose descendants are numer-
ous in the county.
No man connected with the county ever had so many
honors bestowed upon him. He was, at different times, a
member of the General Assembly, Governor of the State,
Senator and Representative in Congress, Secretary of the
Navy, and Governor of Florida. To have held so many
offices shows that he was no ordinary man. The most
striking traits in his character, to which his success is
due, were his incorruptible integrity, indomitable will
pov^er, and urbanity. He was a gentleman of the old
school, who went to his grave full of years and honors.
HUTCHINGS G. BURTON.
Hutchings G. Burton was born in Mecklenburg County,
Va., in 1782. His father, John Burton, was an officer in
the Revolutionary war ; and, dying when his son was three
years old, made his brother. Colonel Robert Burton, of
Granville County, N. C, guardian of the child, requesting
his brother to adopt him into his own family and rear him
as his own son. The uncle took the boy to his home in
Williamsboro where he grew up and remained until he en-
tered upon his business career. His mother also accompa-
nied him to Granville County.
He was given a liberal education for that day. After
attending the academy at Williamsboro, he entered the
University at Chapel Hill, but did not complete his college
course. Leaving the University, he read law under Judge
Henderson, one of the ablest jurists of his day. Upon re-
ceiving his license to practice law, he located in Charlotte.
In 1809 and again in 1810, he represented Mecklenburg
County in the House of Commons. His advance at the
bar must have been rapid, as, in 1810, he was elected At-
torney-General of the State, which position he held until
1816, when he resigned.
182 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
In 1812, he went to Halifax on a visit to a former school-
mate, Willie Jones, Jr. There he met Sarah, the youngest
daughter of the late Willie Jones, and they were married
in the following December. He immediately located in
Halifax and made his home at the "Grove House." In
1817, he represented the borough of Halifax in the House
of Commons. In 1819, he was elected to Congress and
served two terms.
He was elected Governor of North Carolina in 1825 and
brilliantly occupied that position for two years. One of
the first things Governor Burton did was to urge, in his
message to the General Assembly, the prime importance
of the Public Schools; and, the same year, an act drawn
by Bartlett Yancy was passed, entitled "An act to create
a fund for the establishment of Common Schools." This
was the beginning of our public school system, and makes
memorable the administration of Governor Burton. It
was during Governor Burton's first term that Lafayette
made his visit to the State, and was magnificently enter-
tained at the Governor's home in Raleigh.
In 1826, he was nominated by President John Quincy
Adams as Governor of the Territory of Arkansas, but his
nomination was never confirmed by the Senate. He re-
tired from the executive mansion in 1827 to private life,
and lived the remainder of his days quietly at his home.
Governor Burton was an orator of rare ability and a
stump speaker of unusual power; but while in Congress,
he rarely ever spoke upon the questions before the house.
He explained that, himself, by saying that in the Con-
gress, at the time, were such lights as Clay, Calhoun,
Webster, and Randolph, and they overawed him. Burton
felt under restraint in their company, but had he felt in-
clined he could have displayed ability of no ordinary kind.
He had a summer home in the western part of the
county near Ringwood, named "Rocky Hill," where he
was residing at the time of his death, the circumstances
of which were rather singular. Some time previous to
1836, he had bought a tract of land in Texas with a view
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 183
of going to the "Lone Star Republic" to live. He left his
family at "Rocky Hill" and set out by stage coach to see
his farm in Texas. Reaching Salisbury, where he had
some business in court he met with his cousin, Robert
Burton, of Lincoln County. After completing his busi-
ness in Salisbury, he intended spending a few days with
his cousin before going to Texas. On the trip to Lincoln
County, the party stopped at the Wayside Inn to pass the
night. Here, Governor Burton was taken, during the
night, with cramp and died within a few hours. His last
words were, "Oh, my dear wife and children! Lord, re-
ceive my spirit." His death occurred April 21, 1836. His
remains were buried in Unity Churchyard, in Lincoln
Mrs. Burton, at her home at "Rocky Hill," did not hear
of his death until three weeks after the funeral, and, even
then the first intimation of it was a newspaper account of
his death and burial.
JOSEPH J. DANIEL.
Joseph J. Daniel was born in Halifax County, Novem-
ber 13, 1784. Very little is known of his boyhood. It
is said that his early education was defective; but, later
he became a close student of the law under the tutelage of
William R. Davie. By diligent application, he overcame
his early deficiencies and became in early manhood one of
the most brilliant lawyers in North Carolina.
His first appearance in public life was in 1807, when
he was elected to the House of Commons from the borough
of Halifax. He was but twenty-three years of age at the
time, but showed wisdom and discretion far beyond his
years. He was elected to the House of Commons from
the county in 1811 and 1812, and to the same body from
the town in 1815. In 1816, he was appointed Judge of
the Superior Court, and, in 1832, was elevated to the Su-
preme Bench, which position he held until his death in
184 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
There are but scanty details regarding the career of
Judge Daniel. It is said that he was never out of the State
but one time and that was when he attended the trial of
Aaron Burr in 1807 in Richmond, Va. He was devoted
to the State and County, and was always grateful to both
for the honors he received. He was not a good speaker at
the bar, but a fine conversationalist. His ready wit and
strong personality were the chief means by which he ad-
vanced so rapidly in his profession. He was judge of the
Superior Court for sixteen years, and served the same
length of time on the Supreme Bench. This long tenure
of office, in itself, shows that he was a man of no ordi-
nary ability. His reports of cases decided in the Supreme
Court and his written decisions are models of conciseness
and terseness, not a superfluous word being used.
Judge Daniel is said to have had an artless simplicity
of character, and not to have been practical in the every
day affairs of life. One, who knew him well, said that
the simplest details of the farm were Dutch to him. He
could not even plant a row of corn. Another who also
knew him said that he was kind and charitable, and that
he had known him to send around a servant with meal
and meat to his indigent neighbors. In Judge Daniel's
day, it was no reflection upon a man to "take a drink"
with a friend ; and whenever he did. Judge Daniel insisted
on the English custom of paying for his own drink.
He owned a residence in the town of Halifax and a
country home at his farm, "Burnt Coat," near Heathsville.
He married Maria Stith, whom he survived. Several chil-
dren survived him, and his descendants are numerous in
this State and others.
Chief-Justice Ruffin had the following to say of Judge
Daniel on the occasion of the adoption of resolutions by
the bar on the occasion of his death :
"Judge Daniel served his country through a period of
nearly thirty-two years acceptably, ably, and faithfully.
He had a love of learning, an inquiring mind, and a mem.-
ory uncommonly tenacious ; and he had acquired and re-
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 185
tained a stock of varied and extensive knowledge, and
especially became well versed in the History and the Prin-
ciples of the Law. He was without arrogance or ostenta-
tion, even of his learning; had the most unaffected and
charming simplicity and mildness of manners, and no
other purpose in office than to 'execute justice and main-
tain truth' ; and, therefore, he was patient in hearing ar-
gument, laborious and calm in investigation, candid and
instructive in consultation, and impartial and firm in de-
JOHN R. J. DANIEL.
The subject of this sketch was born in Halifax County
in 1802 and graduated from the State University in 1821.
After his graduation, he located at Halifax for the prac-
tice of law, which he pursued with great success. No man,
in the early part of the nineteenth century, was more bril-
liant at the Halifax bar than John R. J. Daniel.
In 1831, he was elected to the House of Commons and
re-elected in 1832, 1833, and 1834. In the last mentioned
year, he was chosen Attorney- General of the State, which
position he held until 1841, when he was elected to Con-
gress as the representative in the House of Representa-
tives from the Second District. He was re-elected con-
tinuously until 1851 when he retired from active partici-
pation in public affairs. While in congress, he was for
several years chairman of the Committee on Claims, a
post of duty for which his unquestioned integrity, clear
and discriminating mind, and patient industry especially
He was a good speaker and debater. Thomas H. Benton,
in his book, makes several extracts from his speeches
while in Congress and pays him a deserved tribute. He
is said to have been a man of iron will, sometimes over-
bearing and tyrannical, tenacious of his rights and fond
of having his own way. Once he became involved in a
186 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
law suit with a neighbor over two acres of farm land,
which both claimed ; and, after considerable litigation and
the expenditure of much ill nature and display of temper,
he was beaten in the final adjudication and had to pay the
bill of cost amounting to $2700.00. It may be supposed
that this was done with no very amiable disposition by a
man, who believed in his own case and saw no show of
reason in the contentions of his opponent.
After serving his last term in Congress in 1851, he
bought a farm near Shreveport, La., where he resided
much of the time until his death in 1868. He was a cousin
of Judge Joseph J. Daniel, father of General Junius Dan-
iel, and immediately or remotely connected with the large
family of that name in this and adjoining counties.
BYNUM AND POTTER.
During the early years of the nineteenth century, two
men, Jesse A. Bynum and Robert Potter, lived a number
of years in the town of Halifax and had considerable
weight in the administration of public affairs. They pos-
sessed brilliant intellects, but because of violent tempers,
they became involved in many difficulties that have
brought reproach and almost ignominy upon their names.
Because of their bitter rivalry, mention is made of them
in the same connection.
Bynum was born in Northampton County and educat-
ed at Union College, New York, but came to Halifax quite
early in life and began the practice of law. He represent-
ed the borough of Halifax in the General Assembly in
1823 and 1824 and again in 1827 and 1828. In 1825, he
and Robert Potter were opposing candidates, and so
warm did the campaign become that on election day the
voting was broken up by a street fight between the adher-
ents of the two candidates. Consequently, there was no
election and no representative from the town that j'^ear.
Robert Potter was elected the next year.
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 187
In 1833, Bynum became a candidate for Congress ; and
conducted such a brilliant campaign, he was elected by a
big majority over his Whig opponent. He was re-elected
continuously until 1841, when he retired to private life
and removed to Louisiana. While in Congress he had
two personal difficulties, one with Congressman Jenifer,
of Maryland, resulting in a duel, which terminated, after
several ineffectual shots, in a reconciliation ; and another,
on the floor of the House, with Congressman Garland of
Louisiana. His career after his retirement from Con-
gress is unknown.
Robert Potter was born in Granville County but lived
for several years in Halifax. He was a man of ability,
but of such violent temper and perverse nature that his
career was a reproach upon his name. He and Bynum
were on bad terms, it was said, because Bynum refused
to introduce him to a certain young lady. Their bitter
personal rivalries were carried into the political cam-
paigns and fisticuffs were frequent. As already related,
the election of 1825 was broken up by a street row; but,
in 1826, Potter was elected as the representative in the
House of Commons from the town of Halifax.
In 1827, Potter removed from Halifax to Granville
County, and so lost connection with this immediate sec-
tion ; but because of his remarkable subsequent career,
the story of his life is followed, though its recital reveals
the ignominy of his character.
In 1828, he was chosen to represent Granville County
in the House of Commons, and made himself very popular
by championing a bill to inquire into the condition of the
banks, some of which at the time were very corrupt. In
1830 he was elected to Congress and re-elected in 1832;
but on account of the commission of a nameless crime,
for which he was arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced
to jail, he did not serve his term out. Strange to say, how-
ever, that after serving his term in jail, he was again
elected to the House of Commons from Granville County ;
but was expelled for cheating at cards.
188 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
After this second disgrace, Potter became an object of
detestation; and, to escape public censure, he fled to
Texas. There he took part in political matters and rose
to prominence. Later, he moved to Louisiana and located
near Caddo Lake. There he led a life of gross immoral-
ity, and, after forbearance had ceased to be a virtue, he
was warned by his indignant neighbors to leave the com-
munity. He did not, however, obey the warning. Short-
ly afterwards a number of men came to his house by night,
took him outside, and told him he richly deserved death ;
but they would give him a chance for his life. They then
gave him a start of one hundred yards and told him that
his life would be the forfeit if any of his pursuers should
get in shooting distance of him. Potter immediately ran
for the lake and plunged in to escape death by diving.
His pursuers came to the edge of the lake, and, as he came
to the surface for breath, fired upon him and he sank to
a watery grave.
Thus died in disgrace and ignominy one of the most
brilliant and corrupt men ever connected with Halifax
BARTHOLOMEW F. MOORE.
Bartholomew Figures Moore was born at Sycamore Al-
ley, Halifax County, January 29, 1801. His father, James
Moore, came to the county from Northampton, Va. He
was a sailor in the Revolutionary War, and saw service
of a very exciting nature in that eventful struggle. Some
of his adventures have already been narrated in a former
"Bat" Moore, as the distinguished son is familiarly
known, entered the University of North Carolina in 1818
and graduated therefrom in 1820. He then read law un-
der Thomas N. Mann, a prominent lawyer of Nash Coun-
ty, securing license to practice and locating at Nashville,
N. C, in 1823. At first he had but little success, and.
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 189
it is said, practiced several years without making ex-
penses. He persevered, however, overcoming all difficul-
ties by his indomitable will power until he reached the
very summit of the profession in the State.
In December, 1828, he was married to Louisa, daugh-
ter of George Boddie, of Nash County. She died the next
year, and, in 1835, he married Lucy, another daughter of
George Boddie. In that year, he removed to his native
County and began the practice of his profession in the
town of Halifax, where he met with great success. He
entered politics in 1836 and was elected to the House of
Commons that year. He was a candidate in 1838, but
was defeated at the polls by a majority of one vote, said
to have been cast against him because he voted for an ap-
propriation for the building of the Wilmington and Wel-
don Railroad. He was again elected in 1840 and re-elected
in 1842 and 1844.
In 1847, he was appointed by Governor Graham to the
position of Attorney-General of the State, and elected by
the General Assembly in 1850. The next year he was ap-
pointed by Governor Reid on the commission to revise
the statute laws of the State, in accordance with an act of
the General Assembly of that year. The Revised Code
was reported to the Legislature of 1854, and, with some
modifications, passed into law. He was a member of the
Commission appointed to edit and publish the code, which
was done in 1855.
During the whole period of his residence at Halifax he
was laboriously and successfully engaged in the practice
of the law in all the courts in his circuit except the coun-
ty courts, all of which, except Halifax, he discontinued
upon his appointment to the office of Attorney-General.
He removed to Raleigh in 1848, where he resided at the
time of his death in 1878.
In Oakwood Cemetery, Raleigh, stands one of the most
beautiful and costly monuments in North Carolina. It
occupies a prominent position, and its symmetrical pro-
portion and artistic beauty make it a notable object. Its
190 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
total height is twenty-three feet. The design is Gothic
and the spire is surrounded by a crown and cross. On the
west side is the following inscription :
"Bartholomew Figures Moore, LL. D.
Born January 29, 1801,
Died November 27, 1878
Citizen, Lawyer, Statesman
To himself, his family, and his country
He was true.
To evade a duty was to him impossible. In the dis-
charge of duty he was diligent; difficulty intensified his
effort. A devoted son of North Carolina. A never fail-
ing friend and liberal benefactor to her interests, an un-
compromising foe to oppression, a profound jurist, and a
One of the most universally popular men that ever lived
in Halifax County was Colonel Andrew Joyner, who was
born, November 5, 1786, near the town of Halifax. His
father, Henry Joyner, was a prominent planter and busi-
ness man. Not much is known of the early life of Andrew
Joyner. He was probably as well educated as the limited
means of acquiring an education in that day would allow.
His first service of a public nature was during the War
of 1812. He was enrolled in the Third Regiment of North
Carolina Volunteers, and before the regiment was ready
for service he was given the rank of Major. Shortly af-
terwards he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Col-
onel in the First Regiment of North Carolina Volunteers.
He served in that capacity during the period of the war.
In 1814, his regiment was ordered to Norfolk, Va., to
assist in repelling a threatened British attack upon that
town. Admiral Cockburn, the ranking British Naval of-
ficer in the Chesapeake, had been threatening a descent
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 191
upon the place. Finding it, however, well fortified and
garrisoned, he did not attack; but sailed away to the
South. During the stay of the First Regiment at Norfolk,
an epidemic of "Camp Plague" broke out, and almost
every man in the command suffered from it. During the
prevalence of the epidemic, Joyner was so indefatigable
in his efforts to relieve the sufferings of the men that he
endeared himself to the survivors to such an extent that,
in his political campaigns in later life, not one of them
ever voted against him.
In 1835, he was elected Senator from the county to the
General Assembly, and re-elected continuously until 1852.
He was the presiding officer of the Senate in 1838, 1840,
and 1846. In his campaigns for election, he usually won
easily. He was a Whig, but sometimes he was elected
unanimously. Not an old soldier of any political faith ever
voted against him.
Colonel Joyner turned his attention to "big" business
enterprises. He was an earnest advocate of internal im-
provements, voted regularly for railroads every time he
had an opportunity, and was a promoter of steamboat
lines on the Roanoke river. He was President of the Roa-
noke Navigation Company, that put on the first steamboat
that ever made a trip on the Roanoke. He was also Presi-
dent of the Weldon and Portsmouth railroad, which after-
wards became the Seaboard, and directed the affairs of
that company from his headquarters in Weldon for many
While Colonel Joyner was so closely indentified with
the railroads, he would never allow one of his children to
ride on a pass. He had a highly developed judicial mind
and was particularly active in settling disputes between
neighbors. So well known was he in this respect that his
home near Weldon was generally spoken of as "Colonel
Joyner's Court of Equity."
He was twice married, first to Temperance Williams
and second to Sarah Jones Burton, widow of Governor
Hutchings G. Burton. Numerous children survived.
192 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
Colonel Joyner died Sept. 20, 1856, and is buried at Pop-
lar Grove near Weldon.
LAWRENCE O'BRYAN BRANCH.
One of the Brigadier-Generals, furnished by Halifax
County to the Confederate army during the War between
the States, is the subject of this sketch. He was bom,
in Enfield November 28, 1820, was a grandson of John
Branch, sheriff of Halifax County during the Revolution,
and a nephew of John Branch, member of Congress gov-
ernor senator, and cabinet member. His ancestry and
immediate family relationship were brilliant
His father. Major Joseph Branch, upon the'death of his
wife on Christmas day, 1825, removed to Tennessee, and
shortly afterwards died, leaving his son, Lawrence, to the
guardianship of his distinguished brother, John Branch
1 he boy was brought back to North Carolina and was
with his uncle m Washington during his career as a mem-
ber of Congress and a cabinet official. Upon the disrup-
tion of President Jackson's cabinet in 1831, young Branch
returned with his uncle to Enfield, where he entered a
preparatory school and was ready for college by the time
he was fifteen.
In 1835, he entered the University of North Carolina.
Ihe next year, however, he matriculated at Princeton
was graduated from that institution in 1838, and deliv-
ered the English salutatory. He studied law in Tennessee
obtained license, and began to practice in Florida before
he was twenty-one years of age. In 1841, when the Sem-
f .J^o^'^u^^^^' ^^ ^""^'^^^^ ^"^ ""'^^ ^^d to General Reid.
in 1848 he returned to his native State and located in
Raleigh for the practice of law. Here his rise was rapid,
tor, in 1852, he was presidential elector on the Pierce and
King ticket and member of Congress in 1854
In 1852, he became President of the Raleigh and Gas-
ton Railroad Company and served two years when he re-
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 193
signed to become a member of Congress from the Raleigh
district. In this latter capacity, he served with ability
until 1861 when he resigned because he saw that North
Carolina was about to secede from the union. Upon his
retirement from Congress, President Buchanan tendered
him the portfolio of Secretary of the Treasury, but he
declined it for the same reason that he gave up his seat
Returning to Raleigh, in April, 1861, he, at once, joined
the Raleigh Rifles as a private. He was made Quarter-
master-General the same month and elevated to the posi-
tion of Paymaster-General on May 20. In September,
the same year, he resigned that position to accept the com-
mission of Colonel in the Thirty-Third Regiment, a posi-
tion that would give him more active duties in the field,
which was more in keeping with his tastes.
In January, 1862, Colonel Branch was commissioned
by President Jefferson Davis Brigadier-General and sta-
tioned at Newbem for the protection of that city and to
safeguard eastern North Carolina. Branch had five
thousand men, under his command, but the city was at-
tacked in March, the same year, by 15,000 Federals and
Branch was obliged to evacuate his fortifications and re-
treat to Kinston. Being relieved of his separate com-
mand, General Branch was given a brigade in the army
of Northern Virginia, and was in the battle of Hanover
Court House, where, on account of signal bravery and
distinguished services, he was praised by General Lee.
General Branch was conspicuous for his gallantry in the
Battles of the Seven Days, Cedar Run, Second Bull Run,
Fairfax Court House, Harpers Ferry, and Antietam. At
the latter place, while standing with some officers, near
the firing line, he was shot through the head and fell into
the arms of Major Joseph A. Engelhead, and died almost
immediately. The remains were brought to Raleigh for
General Branch married Nancy Haywood Blount,
daughter of General W. A. Blount, and left four children.
194 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
as follows : William A, B. Branch, an officer in the War be-
tween the States, and, from 1891 to 1895, member of Con-
gress from the First Congressional district. The daugh-
ters were Susan, who married Robert H. Jones ; Nannie,
married Armistead Jones ; Josephine married Kerr Craig
Edward Conigland was born in the county of Donigal,
Ireland, April 22, 1819. He was the fifth son of Dr. Pat-
rick and Margaret Brison Conigland. His father was a
skilled physician, and gave his sons the best educational
advantages the times afforded. Dr. Conigland's death,
however, occurred when Edward was but fourteen years
of age ; and his mother, owing to financial losses, emigrat-
ed, with her children, to America, arriving in New York,
October 26, 1834.
Like many another young Irishman, coming to this
country, Edward found that life in the New World was not
one of ease. He was, therefore, glad to do any kind of
work that offered itself to keep the wolf from the door,
and had but little opportunity to pursue his classical stud-
ies he had begun in Ireland. He was diligent enough,
however, to bend his energies to the acquisition of know-
ledge and the improvement of his mind in whatever way
chance offered. Through the mediation of an influential
friend, he was elected to membership in the Metropolitan
Debating Association, which had been established by
young men of cultivated tastes and literary aspirations
for mutual improvement, one of the exclusive social or-
ganizations in New York City. On several occasions,
when the public was admitted to the debates, the talent
displayed by young Conigland, both as a writer and a
speaker, was much complimented in the New York Jour-
In 1844, having studied law in New York and being a
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 195
good mathematician and linguist, he came to Halifax
County and taught school in the home of Isaac Falkland
for a year or two. During his career as a teacher, he con-
tinued his study of law ; and, in 1846, procured license to
practice in the Courts of North Carolina, establishing an
office in the town of Halifax.
Like most young lawyers, he came into lucrative prac-
tice slowly, having what is known as the "starving pe-
riod" for several years. His talent and industry, however,
ultimately put him in the first rank of his profession. His
services were desired and employed in many counties in
the State. Two of the most celebrated legal cases, in
which he was engaged, were the impeachment trial of
Governor Holden and the Johnston Will Case. In the
former, he was counsel for the defense and used all the
tremendous force of his brilliant intellect to save the ac-
cused Governor from conviction ; but to no avail.
In 1865, he was one of the delegates from Halifax Coun-
ty to the Constitutional Convention in Raleigh. The
stand he took in that convention gained for him the ap-
proval and high regard of the people of the State. He had
not been a soldier in the War between the States because
of his defective hearing, but he showed, in his speeches
and his votes in that body that he was a patriotic North
Forming a partnership, for the practice of law, in 1875,
with the late Robert 0. Burton, he continued the work of
his profession with increasing success until his tragic
death in December, 1877, brought his career to a close.
On December 4, that year, he was returning home from
one of his farms near Halifax, walking on the railroad
track, and in a few minutes would have been with his
family, when he was run down and killed instantly by a
Edward Conigland was married three times, first to
Eliza Tillery, of Halifax County; second, to Mary Wyatt
Ezell, of Jackson, N. C, and third, to Emily Long, of
Northampton County. None of his descendants now re-
side in the county.
196 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
In many respects, the most distinguished soldier that
Halifax County has produced was Junius Daniel, the sub-
ject of this sketch. He was the youngest son and the last
surviving issue of John R. J, Daniel, who was distin-
guished as Attorney-General and member of Congress
for a long time. He was born in the town of Halifax
on the 27th day of June, 1828, and, at the age of three, met
with the loss of an admirable mother.
His youth was passed in a quiet and an uneventful
manner in the elementary schools of his native town.
When about fifteen years of age, he was sent to the ex-
cellent academy of J. M. Love joy, of Raleigh, and re-
mained in that school until 1846. While in that institu-
tion, he was spoken of as "admirably made, muscular, a
quick eye, and as determined a spirit as ever animated
a body." His record in the Love joy Academy was ad-
In 1846, under the appointment of President Polk he en-
tered the Military Academy at West Point. After a high-
ly creditable and honorable career as a student, both in
deportment and scholarship, he was graduated therefrom
in 1851. While in school there and during some maneu-
vers on the drill ground with the artillery corps, a heavy
gun was thrown on him, injuring his spine, which affect-
ed his health for several years.
After graduation, he was ordered to Newport, Ky., as
assistant quartermaster; but in the fall of 1852, he was
sent, in charge of a detachment of soldiers, to New Mex-
ico, and was stationed at Fort Albuquerque where he re-
mained five years. While in this service, some refractory
soldiers entered into a conspiracy to kill him and at-
tacked him in his quarters. When set upon, Daniel
drew his sword, which, however, was shattered at the
first thrust and fell from his hand. Although dis-
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 197
armed, he, by his powerful strength, kept his assailants
at bay until the attention of the guard was attracted,
and he was rescued.
In 1857, he resigned his commission in the service
of the United States government, at the solicitation of
his father, and began a career as an agriculturist in
Louisiana. This occupation was not altogether accord-
ing to his tastes, and he was not reluctant to give it up
at the first favorable opportunity, which was not long
in coming. He was, according to a report, a good farmer,
showing great adaptability to a career that he was
compelled to force himself to like.
He married, in October, 1860, Ellen, an accomplished
daughter of Colonel John J. Long, of Northampton
County. He returned to Louisiana, and was engaged
vigorously in working his large plantation when the
first gun was fired at Sumter and a continent became
engulfed in war.
When Lincoln called for troops to crush the South,
the State of Louisiana offered Daniel a commission in
the service of that State. He, however, preferred to
serve with the troops of North Carolina and hastened
home. Arriving in Halifax, he tendered his services
to Governor Ellis, and was immediately accepted. He
was shortly afterwards elected Colonel of the Fourth
Regiment, but later of the Fourteenth, which he ac-
cepted and remained the commanding officer until the
period of enlistment expired. He was then tendered
command of the Forty-Third and the Forty-Fifth regi-
ments, which had enlisted for the period of the war.
About the same time, he was offered by Governor Clark
the command of the Second North Carolina Cavalry. He
accepted the command of the Forty-Fifth.
Soon thereafter. Colonel Daniel was ordered by Gen-
eral Holmes to lead the four regiments then in Raleigh
to Goldsboro and there organize them into a brigade.
This was done so efficiently that General Holmes recom-
mended Daniel to the authorities at Richmond for ap-
198 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
pointment as brigadier-general. The Confederate gov-
ernment, however, had been too liberal in appoint-
ments, and had already commissioned more brigadiers
than there were brigades to command. So Daniel found
himself a brigadier without a commission and had to give
place to one who had a commission but no command. He
then organized another brigade, only to see it assigned to
another. Later, he was called upon to organize a third,
and this he retained command of as senior colonel for
nearly twelve months.
During this period, he was serving under the different
departmental officers, all of whom urged his promotion,
but to no avail. In June, 1862, he was ordered to Peters-
burg, and, with the brigade, joined General Lee's army
before the Seven Days' Battles, but took no active part
In October, 1862, the long delayed commission
as a brigadier-general was received. His brigade was
composed of the following regiments : The Thirty-Second,
commanded by Cowan; the Forty-Third, by Kenan,
wounded and captured at Gettysburg; the Forty-Fifth,
first by Morehead, who died at Martinsburg, Va., in Janu-
ary, 1863, then by Boyd, who was wounded and captured
at Gettysburg, exchanged and killed at Spottsylvania ; the
Fifty-Third, by Owen, killed at Winchester; and the
Second North Carolina Battalion, by Lieutenant-Colon )1
Andrews, killed at Gettysburg. What a melancholy rec-
General Daniel spent the fall of 1862, with his brigade,
at Drury's Bluff. In December, he was ordered to
North Carolina, under the command of General D. H.
Hill to repel a diversion of Foster in favor of Burnside
at Fredericksburg, Va. Shortly after the Battle of
Chancellorsville, he was transferred to Lee's army, Rode's
division, Ewell's Corps during the Pennsylvania cam-
paign which followed.
At Carlisle, Pa., General Ewell conferred a great honor
upon General Daniel and his brigade. After reaching
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 199
that place, General Ewell made a speech to Rode's divis-
ion, complimenting them upon the successes of the march,
their military bearing, and soldierly conduct. Then turn-
ing to Daniel's brigade, recently attached to the division,
he said: "You have shown yourselves so obedient to all
orders, so sturdy and regular on the march and so well
disciplined, that I will intrust to you the bearing of the
'Corps flag/ confident that its honor could never suffer
while in the keeping of such troops."
This was a proud moment for General Daniel and the
highest compliment that could have been conferred on
his troops. The older brigades murmured at this prefer-
ence, but the flag was valiantly borne in many hard fought
battles. General Ramseur said that he coveted that flag
and that he never saw troops move with more precision
on parade than the troops who bore it when ordered to
change their position under the full fire of the enemy. This
tribute came from an honored rival and could not have
been meant for mere pleasantry.
The action of General Daniel at Gettysburg and the
troops under his command won for him the highest es-
teem among his fellow soldiers of whatever rank. The
senior captain of the Forty-Third Regiment, Gary Whit-
aker, who commanded the regiment after Kenan was shot
down and who afterwards sealed his patriotism with his
blood, is reported to have said that General Lee thus ac-
costed General Daniel after the battle: "General Daniel,
your troops behaved admirably and they were admirably
General Daniel made an admirable report of the battle
of Gettysburg, which is of sufficient interest to reproduce,
at least, a portion of it :
"I cannot, in justice to the officers and men of my com-
mand, close this portion of my report without recording
my honest conviction that the conduct of the troops, who
participated in this engagement, will furnish brighter ex-
amples of patient endurance than were ever exhibited be-
fore. Entering the fight in the first day at about one P.
200 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
M. and hotly engaged until four P. M., during which time
they constantly drove before them a superior force of the
enemy, losing nearly one-third of their number and many
valuable officers ; exposed during the second day to a gall-
ing fire of artillery from which they suffered much, they
moved at night in a line of battle on the enemy's strong
positions, after which, with less than two hours' rest and
having made a fatiguing night march, they reported to
General Johnson and entered the fight again at four A. M.
on the third day and were not withdrawn until between
three and four in the afternoon, then skirmishers remain-
ing engaged until nearly twelve at night, and this whole
time being constantly exposed to, and suffering from, the
enemy's fire. Shortly after twelve, they were required to
repeat the march of the preceding night and occupy the
positions from which they had driven the enemy on the
first day. Nor was there exhibited by any portion of the
command during the three days in which they were en-
gaged any disposition to shrink from the duties before
them or any indication of that despondency with which
men similarly exposed are so often affected."
The next engagement, in which Daniel's brigade took
part, was at Spottsylvania Court House, May 11, 1864.
During a desperate charge of the Federals, the Confeder-
ate lines were broken and the enemy was rapidly advanc-
ing, when Daniel's brigade, which had been on the reserve
line up to that time was brought into action, and, being
led by General Daniel in a gallant charge, checked the ad-
vance of the Federals and converted a defeat into a vic-
tory. On the next morning, at the "Horseshoe Bend,"
hear Spottsylvania Court House, General Daniel fought
his last battle. General Edward Johnson's division had
been surprised early in the morning and most of it cap-
tured or killed. General Daniel was leading his brigade
to recapture the works when he was struck in the abdo-
men by a minie ball. He was carried in a litter to the
hospital about one mile in the rear and kept under the in-
fluence of opiates until the next day when he died. His
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 201
last thought was of his wife in her distant home unable to
His remains were brought to Halifax and interred in
the old churchyard, overlooking the blue hills of North-
ampton. The grave is unmarked even by a stone, and,
after the present generation has passed away, may be en-
tirely lost to memory.
FRANCIS M. PARKER.
Francis Marion Parker was born in Nash County, Sep-
tember 21, 1827. His father, Theophilus Parker, was a
thrifty merchant and farmer. The son had the privilege
of country life, and enjoyed the wholesome opportunity
of being reared on a prosperous farm.
He was educated at the well known Love joy Academy in
Raleigh, where he had the opportunity of being under the
tutelage of learned and competent instructors. Receiving
a liberal education at this institution, he returned to his
father's farm and took up the duties of a planter. A few
years later, he married Sallie T. Philips, of Edgecombe
County, and, having purchased a farm near Enfield, made
his home there.
Here he was living with his family when the War be-
tween the States began in 1861. Even before the State se-
ceded Parker had already made preparation for the war.
In April, he assisted in organizing the Enfield Blues and
became the Second Lieutenant of the company. In May,
his company was assigned to the First North Carolina
Regiment, which afterwards came to be called the Bethel
Regiment, and, in the latter part of the month, was or-
dered to Virginia to assist in repelling the threatened Fed-
eral advance from Fort Monroe.
At Bethel, on June 10th, Parker received his first bap-
tism of fire and distinguished himself with signal gal-
lantry. On August 31, 1861, he became Captain of the
Enfield Blues, but held that position only about six weeks
202 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
when he was offered and accepted the commission of Colo-
nel of the Thirtieth Regiment of North Carolina volun-
teers, which position he held until he was wounded and
forced to retire from the service.
Colonel Parker was in the thickest of the Seven Days'
Battles around Richmond, where his regiment performed
heroic service. He was also in the battles of Seven Pines,
South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellors-
ville, Gettysburg, Wilderness, and Spottsylvania. He was
severely wounded at the last mentioned conflict and was
obliged to retire from active service. In all these great
struggles, more than the average soldier was expected to
experience. Colonel Parker showed a patriotic devotion of
the highest type and rare military skill.
After the close of the war. Colonel Parker retired to
his country estate, where he spent the remainder of his
life. He died January 18, 1905.
Two distinguished sons of Halifax County have borne
the name of Spier Whitaker. The first of the name was
born in 1798, became prominent in politics in the early
forties, was Attorney-General of North Carolina four
years, 1842-46, and, after his term of office expired, re-
moved with his family to Iowa, and died in his adopted
State after the close of the War between the States.
Spier Whitaker, son of the one just mentioned, was
born in Enfield, March 15, 1841. At an early age he en-
tered the school of Major Samuel Hughes in Orange
County, where he was prepared for college. In the fall of
1857, he matriculated at the University of North Carolina,
and would have received his diploma in June, 1861, if he
had remained until then; but the war clouds began to
gather in increasing blackness, and young Whitaker, along
with others, left college in April and volunteered as a
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 203
private in a company being raised by Captain Richard J.
His company was assigned to the Bethel Regiment. He
was in the Battle of Bethel and was in the maneuvers
around Yorktown until his company was ordered to New-
bern the latter part of the year and attached to the com-
mand of General L. O'B. Branch for the defense of East-
ern North Carolina.
He was in the thickest of the fight at Newbern, and fell
into the hands of the enemy as a prisoner of war. After
being held four months, he was exchanged and at once
resumed his position in the ranks. He was made second
lieutenant, and, with his company, joined Lee's army just
before the first invasion of Maryland. He was in the
memorable Battle of Antietam and the most of the ter-
rible struggles of 1863 and 1864. At Appomattox, he
sheathed his sword and went to his father's home in Iowa.
Young Whitaker, however, was not satisfied with life
in the West, and, after studying law under the tutelage of
his father, returned to North Carolina in the fall of 1866
and located at Enfield. He became solicitor in 1867, a po-
sition he filled with splendid ability for several years. He
was elected to the State Senate in 1881, and, in 1882, re-
moved to Raleigh to form a law partnership with John
In 1888 he was chairman of the State Democratic Ex-
ecutive Committee and conducted a masterly campaign
that year. The next year, he was appointed by Governor
Fowle to the position of Superior Court Judge and was
elected for the unexpired term in 1890. He retired from
the judgeship in 1894, and resumed the practice of law
in Raleigh. In 1898, the Spanish-American war having
broken out, he volunteered his services and was appointed
and commissioned Major by President McKinley. He,
however, did not see active service, for the war ended be-
fore the North Carolina troops were called to the front.
Major Whitaker returned to Raleigh in 1899 and again
resumed the practice of his profession. He died in the
capital city, July 11, 1901.
204 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
WALTER N. ALLEN.
Walter N. Allen was born March 1, 1834, near Littleton.
He was the oldest son of James V. Allen and his wife,
Eliza Mason Johnson, and a great grandson of James Al-
len, who was Colonel of the Halifax regiment of minute
men during the closing months of the Revolutionary War.
His grandfather, John Allen, was also a soldier of the
Revolution, being yet in his teens when commissioned a
second lieutenant and entrusted with the important duty
of carrying from Philadelphia to Newbern $2485.50 in
gold to pay off the soldiers of the Continental line.
After receiving an elementary education in the schools
of his neighborhood, Walter Allen, more generally known
by his middle name of Norman, entered Lake Forest Col-
lege, where he studied for two years. Leaving Lake For-
est, he matriculated at the University of North Carolina
in the school of law and continued his studies for two
years longer. In 1856, he secured his license to practice
law and was admitted to the bar in Halifax.
In 1857, he went to Kansas, locating in Jefferson County.
In that new country, he quickly became prominent. In
1858, he was appointed county attorney and the next year
was elected to the same position at the polls. In 1863,
he was appointed clerk of the district court of Jefferson
County by William McDowell, Judge of the First Judicial
District of Kansas. In 1865, he was elected to the Kansas
House of Representatives as the member from Jefferson
County. While a member of that body, he was active in
opposing the proposition to appropriate 500,000 acres of
the public lands to the railroad company then traversing
the county, taking the ground that these lands were held
in trust by the State for the support of the public schools.
In 1867, Allen was elected clerk of the court. During
his term of office, he came into violent conflict with the
Board of County Commissioners. The proposition was
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 205
submitted to the voters of the county to issue bonds to the
amount of $300,000, in equal proportions, to the Atchi-
son, Topeka, and Santa Fe and the Atchison, Oskaloosa,
and Lawrence railroads. The election was held and the
commissioners declared the bond issue carried, ordering
Allen, as Clerk of the Court, to make the entry in the
books of the county, subscribing to the stock of these
railroads to the amount of $300,000. Allen refused
to make the entry, and the commissioners instituted legal
proceedings against him to oust him from office. In the
end, he was dismissed from office and imprisoned.
These proceedings brought about a revulsion on the
part of the people and an injunction was gotten out re-
straining the commissioners from issuing the bonds or
subscribing to the stock of the railroads. Allen was re-
leased from jail and promptly became one of the most
popular and influential men in that part of the State. He
entered strenuously into the campaign to remove the com-
missioners from office and to put in a board opposed to
the bond issue. He took the stump, and, in a series of
brilliant speeches, completely routed the bond advocates
and carried the county against the railroad domination of
From the beginning, Jefferson County was heavily Re-
publican; but Allen, who was a staunch Democrat, was
able to secure a majority vote whenever he came before
the people and made a personal canvass. Because of po-
litical conditions in Kansas, which was always overwhelm-
ingly Republican, he failed to realize his ambitions. Con-
sequently he turned his attention to agriculture and lived
upon his estate near the city of Topeka, giving his talents
to the development of agricultural interests of Kansas.
In 1882, he purchased the Topeka Democrat, the lead-
ing Democratic paper of the State and became managing
editor. The same year he purchased the Topeka State
Journal, a Greenback organ, and united it with the Demo-
crat, becoming editor-in-chief of the consolidated papers.
For a number of years, he, as editor of the principal Dem-
206 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
ocratic paper in the State, exerted an influence in party
councils that was almost paramount.
About 1890, Allen turned his attention to the organiza-
tion of the farmers of the Mississippi Valley into a union
for protection against the grain and meat speculators. He
succeeded in getting an immense number of farmers to-
gether in St. Louis and was elected the first president of
the organization. He spent his remaining years in the
Herculean task of perfecting this union and in making it
a mighty instrument for good to the farmers of the west.
After going to Kansas, Norman Allen made two visits
to his birthplace, once during the war between the States
and again in 1885. He died Feb. 5, 1905. He left one
son, Pope Walker Allen, who resides in Topeka, Kansas.
THOMAS L. EMRY.
Among the captains of industry of Halifax County, the
name of Thomas L. Emry is prominent. He was conspic-
uous, during the closing years of the nineteenth century
and the beginning of the twentieth, in some of the most
notable industrial enterprises of the eastern part of
North Carolina. The story of his life is interesting and
Thomas L. Emry was born in Petersburg, Va., Decem-
ber 18, 1842, and was left an orphan at the age of six
years. For eleven years the fatherless and penniless boy
lived an unknown life in the city of his birth, acquiring
such an education as the schools of that day could give
him and his limited opportunities would permit.
In 1859, Tom Emry, as he was generally called, left
Petersburg and came to Halifax to live, engaging in the
business of a tinner, at which he worked for more than a
year. Some of the work he did during that time, is still
in existence in some portions of the county. As a tinner,
however, his career was short.
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 207
When South Carolina seceded from the Union in De-
cember, 1860, Tom Emry, then a mere boy of eighteen,
L.stened to the Palmetto State and volunteered his ser-
vices for the period of the war. He was attached to the
Sixth Regiment of South Carolina volunteers and was
present at the bombardment and capture of Fort Sumter,
April 12, 1861. In July, the same year, his regiment was
ordered to Virginia and reached the battlefield of Bull Run
on the afternoon of July 22 in time to witness the com-
plete defeat and precipitous retreat of the Union Army.
In the fall of 1861, he was transferred, at his request,
from the Sixth Regiment of South Carolina troops to the
Twelfth North Carolina Regiment, and rejoined the Hali-
fax Light Infantry, of which he had been a member before
going to South Carolina. With this regiment and com-
pany he remained during his active participation in the
war and until he was wounded and had to retire from the
Tom Emry was a gallant soldier. He was in the Seven
Days' Battles around Richmond, and, on the last day at
Malvern Hill, won the admiration of his comrades and the
praise of his Colonel and brigade commander by his he-
roic conduct in action. The following is an extract from
the report of Colonel B. O. Wade relative to his gallant be-
"It is gratifying to know that the bravery of some was
without precedent. The noble daring of private T. L.
Emry won the admiration of all his command, he having
seized the flag and rushed through a shower of bullets to
the brow of the hill and there stood defiantly waving it in
the enemy's face until it and staff were completely riddled
On account of wounds received in battle, he became in-
capacitated for heavy duties, and, for the remainder of
the war, was placed on detail for less arduous work. He
thus passed through the remaining portion of the war
without special mention.
Returning to Halifax, at the close of the war, he en-
208 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
gaged in mercantile business and soon established him-
self as one of the commercial factors of the county. In
1869, he located in Weldon, and, at once, took a leading
position in the industrial development of the town. For
nearly twenty years, he was Mayor of Weldon, President
of the Roanoke and Tar River Agricultural Society, for
over fifteen years, and until the day of his death one of
Weldon's most enterprising citizens.
In 1886, Major Emry, as he was now generally known,
was elected a member of the Board of County Commis-
sioners and served in that capacity for two years. In 1888,
he was nominated by the Democratic party for the Sen-
ate of North Carolina, and was elected in November of
that year, overcoming the heavy Republican majority in
the county. He served only one term, declining to be
drawn deeply into politics to the neglect of his business.
Major Emry's greatest distinction, however, was not
as a soldier or a political leader, but as an industrial or-
ganizer and promoter. Some years after coming to Wel-
don to live, he became interested in the development of the
immense water power of the Roanoke river. With an eye
to the great value of that power and with the purpose of
its ultimate utility, he purchased a tract of land near what
was known as the "Great Falls," about five miles up the
river from Weldon, and began active preparation for har-
nessing the tremendous energy that was running to waste.
About 1892, by his untiring zeal, enterprise, and perse-
verance, he succeeded in interesting several capitalists in
the possibilities of utilizing the more than 50,000 horse
power then unharnessed. A corporation, consisting of
Charles Cohen and James M. Mullen, of Petersburg, Va. ;
John L. Patterson and S. F. Patterson, of Winston-Salem ;
W. S. Parker, of Henderson; and W. M. Hobliston, of
Richmond, Va., together with Major Emry, was formed
in 1895, and work was begun in the building of dams
across the river and the construction of mills. The great
enterprise was, therefore, fairly launched and Roanoke
Rapids became an actuality.
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 209
One of Major Emry's associates in the development of
''Great Falls" as a manufacturing point thus speaks of
him: "To Major Thomas L. Emry belongs the honor of
discovering the advantages of this place as a manufactur-
ing site. He built the first power plant ever erected here.
When he began it, I doubt if he knew where the next pay
roll was coming from. He was a man of indomitable en-
ergy, however, and finished it."
Major Emry lived to see the fruition of his dreams, a
great manufacturing centre on a site chosen by himself.
His name is associated with the magic city, and he will
be remembered as one of the greatest potentialities in its
development and growth. He died September 8, 1910.
RICHARD H. SMITH.
Previous to the war between the States, agriculture
was almost the only industry of importance in Halifax
County. The agriculturist, or planter, as the large farmer
of that day was called, was generally a man of influence
and note in his community. As tilling the soil was the
occupation upon which the welfare of the county chiefly
depended, the man who brought wealth to his community
in that way was a benefactor.
Richard H. Smith was one of the influential planters,
among a number of such men in the lower part of the
county, during the decades immediately preceding the
Civil War. Born near Scotland Neck, May 10, 1812, he
grew up on the farm of his father, William R. Smith, im-
bibing the strength, character, and spirit of the well-bred
country boy of that period. At the age of five, he was
sent to school at the Vine Hill Academy in Scotland Neck.
When twelve years old he entered the school of W. E. Webb
at Hyde Park in the Littleton section of the county, and
remained there three years.
There is no record of his work as a student either at Vine
210 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
Hill or at Hyde Park ; but as he was a model boy, it can
well be inferred that he made good marks and won the
respect and confidence of his teachers and class-mates.
After spending a year at Oxford, he matriculated at the
University of North Carolina in the fall of 1828, receiv-
ing his diploma of graduation in 1832.
In the spring of 1833 he went to Warrenton, N. C, and
began the study of law under Edward Hall, an attorney of
that town. After finishing his course and before applying
for license to practice, he was married, December 4, 1834,
to Sally Hall, daughter of Judge John Hall. Aban-
doning the practice of law, he turned his attention to ag-
riculture, and, assuming the burden of management, he
soon became an agriculturalist of recognized ability. Well
educated and endowed with natural talents of a high or-
der, he early became a leader among the farmers of the
He was not a politician by nature and refused to seek
political preferment. In 1848, however, he was persuaded
by his fellow citizens to become a candidate for the house
of Commons on the ticket with William L. Long. Andrew
Joyner, a veteran of the War of 1812, was the candidate
on the same ticket for the senate. At the polls the ticket
received a majority vote, and "Dick" Smith, as he was
familiarly called, began his public career. As a legislator,
he incurred unpopularity because he voted for the charter
of the North Carolina Railroad, and, in the election of
1850, he was defeated. He was, however, renominated in
1852 and elected, and also again in 1854.
Retiring from politics at the end of his term in 1855, he
devoted his energies to his farming interests, and
amassed a fortune that was considerable for that day.
Although out of politics, he took an active interest in the
great questions then agitating the country, chief among
them that of slavery, which seemed destined to disrupt
the Union. He was an ardent supporter of States Rights
and a strict constructionist, and, with other Southern
men, viewed the unreasonable acts of the radical element
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 211
in the North with alarm. There seemed no chance for a
peaceful settlement of the dispute between the North and
the South, but Richard H. Smith was a union man and la-
bored for peace until all hope of a solution of the trouble
In January, 1861, the General Assembly, by an act, sub-
mitted to the people the question of the call of a conven-
tion to consider the matter of secession, and, at the same
time, called for the election of delegates to the convention
if it should be called by vote of the people. Richard H.
Smith was one of the candidates of the opponents of the
convention and was elected, but the call for the conven-
tion was defeated. In May, however, of the same year,
another convention was called by a majority vote of the
people, and Richard H. Smith and Charles J. Gee were
sent as the delegates from Halifax County. The country
was in a state of excitement. Sumter had fallen and
President Lincoln had called upon North Carolina and
other Southern States for troops to wage war upon the
Southern Confederacy. The war had actually begun. So
when the convention met in Raleigh, May 20, there was
no union sentiment among the members. All were for
immediate secession. By a unanimous vote the ordi-
nance was passed, the Halifax representatives being
among the most ardent advocates of the step.
During the war that followed, "Dick" Smith remained
at his home near Scotland Neck, his age excluding him
from active participation in military service. He was,
however, a diligent student of affairs as they transpired,
and, at the end, saw and felt the crash with composure.
The beginning of the war found him a man of wealth. The
end revealed him almost financially bankrupt.
Perhaps the most eminent service Richard H. Smith
performed was what he did as a churchman. He was one
of the organizers of Trinity Parish and a vestryman for
more than fifty years. For fifty-nine years he was a del-
egate from his church to the Diocesan Convention, and in
October, 1865, was a delegate to the General Convention
212 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
of the Episcopal Church, which met that year in Phila-
delphia. One of the great questions before the ecclesias-
tical body was the reunion of the northern and southern
branches of the Church. Along with other southern mem-
bers, Richard H. Smith's voice was raised in behalf of
reconciliation. He gained the ear of the convention and
the two bodies voted to forget the past and to bury all
When the Roanoke and Tar River Agricultural Society
was organized a few years after the close of the Civil War,
Richard H. Smith was chosen its first president. Largely
by his efforts and the efficiency of the secretaries of the
Fair Association, the successful series of fairs, which had
a great influence upon the activities of the county, was
held for a number of years at Weldon.
He died March 3, 1893, at his home near Scotland Neck.
GEORGE GREEN LYNCH.
As a trusted employee of the Postoflfice Departments of
both the Confederacy and the United States, George
Green Lynch had the unusual distinction of having been
personally commended by both governments for merito-
rious services. His was a career notable and conspicuous
for patriotic self-sacrifice and devotion to duty.
Born near Whitakers, Edgecombe County, November
28, 1817, he grew up on his father's farm and early devel-
oped the sturdy character of integrity for which he was
so well known in later life. Taught only in the primitive
schools of that day, his education was not as profound as
would be supposed from the record of the excellent ser-
vice which he afterwards rendered. He was, however, a
close student of that which was most worth while, and
became, as years passed, a man of strong personality and
more than average intelligence.
About 1840, George Lynch entered the service of the
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 213
United States Government as Route Agent of the Post-
ofRce Department, and, in a few years, was made Special
Agent of the same division of the government. He held
the latter position, when the Confederate Government
was organized at Montgomery, Ala., in February, 1861.
Without waiting to see what course North Carolina was
going to take in the crisis, but, believing that the state was
going to secede from the Union, he tendered his resigna-
tion to the department in Washington, March 1, 1861. In
answer to his letter of resignation, he received the fol-
"G. G. Lynch, Esq., of North Carolina, has been in the
service of this Department as Route Agent and Special
Agent for the long period of sixteen years and upwards,
and has always distinguished himself by the most constant
and untiring devotion to the public interests.
"From our knowledge of him both personally and offi-
cially, we cheerfully, and, as an act of justice, testify our
high appreciation of his services, and regret that circum-
stances impel him to resign his office.
(Signed) HORATIO KING,
(Signed) A. N. ZEVERLY,
3rd Assistant P. M. G."
July 1, 1861, he was tendered and accepted the position
of Special Agent of the Postoffice Department of the Con-
federate Government under Postmaster-General John H.
Reagan, which position he held until the downfall of the
During the period of his connection with the Confeder-
ate Government, he was trusted with many dangerous
and important missions. His field of operations was the
entire South and portions of the West, through which he
traveled, establishing postoffices and making collections
for the government. At one time, he personally conveyed
from Augusta, Ga., to Wilmington, N. C, $50,000 in gold,
214 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
for which he was highly complimented by General Rea-
gan in a letter written October 30, 1863.
At another time, he was sent to West Virginia to estab-
lish mail communication between the army of General
Floyd, who was in command of that department, and the
country to the east and south. Later, he was commis-
sioned by General Reagan to establish postal service in
such parts of Missouri as were in possession of the Con-
federacy. For three months he was engaged in this ardu-
ous task while his family knew not whether he was alive
So successful, however, was he in carrying out the or-
ders of his superiors that he was offered by President Jef-
ferson Davis the position of Assistant Postmaster-Gen-
eral with headquarters west of the Mississippi River,
which, however, he declined. He continued his strenuous
duties in a subordinate position until defeat settled upon
the arms of the Confederacy in April, 1865. After Lee's
surrender, he returned to his home out of employment
but still vigorous and optimistic.
The next year he was made General Agent of the Wil-
mington and Weldon Railroad Company with headquar-
ters at Weldon and was continuously in its employment
until his death, December 28, 1886. During this time, he
was a trusted employee and personal friend of some of the
financiers, who were then laying plans for the great At-
lantic Coast Line Railroad Company. Judge Lynch, as he
was then familiarly known, may be considered as one of
the factors, though in a modest way, of the formation of
that standard railroad of the South.
Judge Lynch was married February 19, 1846, to Emma
Whitaker, from which union now survive six children,
Mrs. Margaret Pierce, George G. Lynch, Adolphus B.
Lynch, Mrs. F. S. Overton, Mrs. L. B. Tillery, and Mrs. B.
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 215
THOMAS N. HILL.
Halifax County has been noted in the past, as well as
in the present, for its able jurists. Some of the most pro-
found students of the law have lived and practiced at the
Halifax bar, and have shed lustre upon the name of the
Among the legal lights of the latter part of the nine-
teenth century, the name of Thomas N. Hill is conspic-
uous. He was the second son of Whitmel John Hill and
Lavinia Dorothy Barnes Hill, and was born March 12,
1838, near HUl's Cross Roads in the Scotland Neck sec-
tion of Halifax County, the neighborhood still retaining
its name from the Hill family.
After preparatory study at Vine Hill Academy in Scot-
land Neck and at the Warrenton High School, he entered
the Freshman Class at the State University in 1853, and
was graduated with distinction in June 1857, receiving
the bachelor's degree. Later the master's degree was con-
ferred upon him by his alma mater. Some of his class-
mates were Robert Bingham, superintendent of the Bing-
ham Military School at Asheville; A. C. Avery, of Mor-
ganton, for years a Superior Court and a Supreme Court
Judge; Thomas S. Kenan, Attorney-General, and later
Clerk of the Supreme Court ; John W. Graham, for a long
time one of the most eminent lawyers of the State; and
Thaddeus Belsher, founder of the University of Columbus
and Carrollton College in Mississippi.
Leaving college, he attended for two years Judge Pear-
son's Law School and became grounded in the principles of
common law. In December, 1858, he was licensed to prac-
tice in the County Courts, and, the next year, received li-
cense to practice in the Superior Courts of the State. In
1860, he opened a law office in Halifax, but later the same
year changed his location to Scotland Neck.
In politics, he was a Whig and a Union man. During the
216 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
fall and winter of 1860-61, when troublous times arose, he
opposed secession and argued strenuously for the union as
it existed. When, however, the State seceded. May 20,
1861, and war was inevitable, he enlisted as a private in
the Scotland Neck Mounted Riflemen, afterwards Com-
pany G of the Third North Carolina Cavalry. He was a
soldier for about a year, for in May, 1862, while in the
army, he was elected Solicitor for Halifax County. Re-
turning home, he took up his new duties and continued in
office until 1866 when he declined re-election. He was im-
mediately appointed Clerk and Master in Equity by Judge
Fowle, who was on the Superior Court Bench at that time.
He resigned this office in 1867, and devoted his energies to
the practice of his profession.
As an office lawyer, Tom Hill, as he was familiarly
known, had few superiors among his contemporaries. He
was often appointed Referee, and, in that auxiliary court,
his knowledge of law and his power of analysis were at
their best in the investigation and determination of diffi-
cult questions both of law and fact. His report as Referee
in the case of Badger vs. Daniel, in Volume 79 of the North
Carolina State Reports, is an illustration of his careful
preparation. He had an extensive practice in the courts
of Halifax, Northampton, Warren, Bertie, Martin, and
Hertford counties, in the Supreme Court at Raleigh, and
in the United States Circuit and District Courts.
For more than forty-five years, he had as his opponents
or associates, in the trial of cases, some of the ablest law-
yers in the State. Among them may be mentioned John
Catling, Fabius H. Busbee, Joseph B. Batchelor, and John
W. Hinsdale, of the Raleigh bar ; William W. Peebles, Rob-
ert B. Peebles, Matt. W. Ransom, Thomas W. Mason, and
W. C. Bowen, of the Northampton bar ; Henry A. Gilliam,
of Edgecombe; James E. Moore, of Martin; William D.
Pruden, of Chowan; B. B. Winborne, of Hertford; Wil-
liam A. Jenkins, of Warren; Edward Conigland, Robert
O. Burton, William H. Kitchin, Spier Whitaker, William
H. Day, John A. Moore, William A. Dunn, Claude Kitchin,
^L^* L^O'yy^ ^
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 217
Edward L. Travis, James M. Mullen, Walter Clark, and
Walter E. Daniel, of the Halifax bar.
In 1877, upon the creation of the Inferior Courts, he
was elected Chairman of the Halifax County Inferior
Court Board of Justices and continued as the presiding
officer of that Court until it was abolished by act of the
General Assembly some years later. As presiding judi-
cial officer. Judge Hill was fair and impartial in his de-
cisions, and retained the highest respect and confidence of
January 1, 1878, he located in Halifax for the second
time, and shortly thereafter, he became a candidate be-
fore the Democratic State Convention for the nomination
for the position of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
The following notice of his candidacy is taken from the
Raleigh News in its issue of June 6, 1878 :
"Mr, Thomas N. Hill, a gentleman prominently spoken
of in connection with a place on the Supreme Court Bench,
is in the city; but if he ever finds the office or the office
finds him, it will have to seek him, for he appears to be
entirely too modest and unassuming for the practical busi-
ness of political electioneering, but it is said by those who
know him that a very high order of merit is concealed
about his person and that he has few superiors in the
When the convention met, Judge Hill received a large
vote, but was defeated by the venerable Judge W. N. H.
Smith, of Hertford County. In 1888, he was again a can-
didate and was defeated by James E. Shepherd, of Beau-
fort County, who was elected and was afterwards elevated
to the Chief Justiceship. It appears, therefore, how nar-
rowly Judge Hill failed of being signally honored by his
In 1902, he was importuned to become a candidate be-
fore the Democratic State Convention for the nomination
of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court against the then
incumbent, Judge Walter Clark, another distinguished
jurist of Halifax County. Judge Hill, however, declined
218 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
to be a candidate before the convention, but afterwards
announced his candidacy as an independent, "subject,
however," as he explained, "to such action as may be tak-
en by any State Convention composed of Democrats that
may assemble hereafter for the purpose of making a nom-
ination in opposition to Judge Clark." Shortly after his
announcement, the Republican State Convention met and
passed the following resolution:
"Resolved, that, whereas the Republican party desiring
the elevation to the Bench of the best fitted lawyer of the
State, regardless of party affiliations, the candidacy of the
Hon. Thomas N. Hill, of Halifax, for Chief Justice of
North Carolina, is hereby endorsed, and, we, the Republi-
cans of the State, in convention assembled, do earnestly
recommend him to the people of the State for this high
Although his candidacy was urged by a campaign com-
mittee with headquarters at Greensboro, and a thorough
canvass made, he failed of election. This was his last ap-
pearance before the public, for he died July 24, 1904, at
his home in the town of Halifax- He was a communicant
of the Episcopal Church, a member of the Masonic Frater-
nity, the State Bar Association, the American Bar Asso-
ciation, and the Sons of the Revolution.
He was twice married, first to Eliza Evans Hall, June
4, 1861, who died October 25, 1884, from which union
there were ten children, four sons and six daughters ; sec-
ond to Mary Amis Long, daughter of Nicholas Long, of
Weldon, on March 1, 1887, who died October 12, 1901,
PETER EVANS SMITH.
Peter Evans Smith, son of William Ruffin Smith and
Susan Evans Smith, was born in Edgecombe County, Jan-
uary 20, 1829, and, like most boys of that day, was reared
on a farm. He was named for his maternal grandfather.
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 219
who lived near Old Sparta in Edgecombe County. He was
the oldest of thirteen children.
When old enough to attend school, he was sent to the
Vine Hill Male Academy in Scotland Neck; but later, he
was thoroughly prepared for college at the famous Wil-
liam Bingham School in Orange County. In September,
1846, he matriculated at the University of North Caro-
lina. It is said that he was so well prepared that he did
not have to study as much as other freshmen ; but while
his class-mates were struggling over their lessons for next
day, Peter Smith was sitting under the Davis Poplar play-
ing the flute or violin, or out elsewhere taking daguerro-
types. On the day of graduation, however, he stood among
the best in his class and received his diploma.
At the age of twenty-five, he married Rebecca
Whitmel Hill, daughter of Whitmel J. Hill ; and, although
he had no fondness for the life of a farmer, he was given
a farm by his father, settled upon it, and became an agri-
culturist. He was a born mechanic, but did not have the
opportunity, in early life, to give attention to his devel-
oping genius along that line. For some years, he followed
the life of a planter, but finally gave up his farming inter-
ests and turned his attention entirely to shop work.
As a mechanic and inventor, he is probably best known.
He v/as the first man in the county to introduce the use of
the planing mill. He invented the method of shrinking
tires; an electric buoy, similar to the kind now used in
New York harbor; a drill for boring holes through iron
rails, which was stolen by some Federal raiders during the
Civil War and patented afterward ; a cotton planter, which
was among the first of that useful implement on the farm ;
and others of a minor nature. He was a railroad builder
of considerable note, was one of the principal contractors
in the construction of the Kinston branch of the Wil-
mington and Weldon Railroad, and of the Norfolk and
During the Civil War, Peter Smith was no slacker. His
mechanical genius caused his services to be in demand in
220 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
other departments more important than in the ranks. A
notable example of the work he did during that time is
the construction of the Confederate Ram Albemarle at
Edwards' Ferry near Scotland Neck. Gilbert Elliott, of
Elizabeth City, had the contract for building the boat;
but Peter Smith was the chief builder. Much of the credit
for the success of that wonderful piece of mechanism is
After the Civil War, he lived quietly and unpreten-
tiously at his home in Scotland Neck, working at his trade
as a mechanic. He had his shops in "Old Clarksville" and
in addition to his regular work in that line, he mended
clocks, watches, locks, and guns for his neighbors free of
charge. His genius, which, in more populous centers,
might have brought him fame and fortune, was expended
unsparingly in the interests of his friends almost without
ROBERT 0. BURTON, D. D.
Among the men intimately connected with the rise and
progress of Methodism in Halifax County, the name of
Robert O. Burton stands preeminent. For more than
fifty years, he labored as an itinerant minister in the Roa-
noke section of North Carolina, most of the time in desti-
tute localities, where the people heard him gladly. The
story of his life is an almost complete account of the be-
ginning of the Methodist Church in this portion of the
Robert Oswald Burton was born in Campbell County,
Virginia, June 30, 1811. His father planned for him a
military career and fashioned his education with that in
mind. As soon as he was prepared, he was sent to the
West Point Military Academy to take up his studies there ;
but the young soldier, although a brilliant student, did not
complete the course. Feeling that he was called to preach
the gospel, he resigned the West Point Cadetship, after
two years, and returned home.
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 221
Shortly after giving up his prospects of a military ca-
reer, he joined the Virginia Conference, in 1833, which
met that year in Petersburg, and was ordained deacon the
same year and elder in 1837. He was sent in the former
year, as an itinerant preacher, to that portion of the Vir-
ginia Conference included in North Carolina with head-
quarters at Weldon. This was the beginning of his con-
nection with Halifax County, a relation which continued
to the day of his death.
When the North Carolina Conference was organized in
1837, he became a member of that body and retained
his membership for more than fifty years. During all
those years, he was one of the most prominent members
and wielded an influence which was felt throughout the
state. He filled some of the most important pastorates in
the Conference and was several times Presiding Elder.
On Tvlarch 29, 1842, he was married to Elizabeth Joy-
ner, daughter of Colonel Andrew Joyner of Weldon, and
built his home, Wyandoke, near Poplar Grove, the home
of his father-in-law, a few miles from town, near the pres-
ent city of Roanoke Rapids. Throughout all the years of
his ministry, even in other counties, he held this house as
an anchorage to which he returned, an experience that
few Methodist preachers have. Here he reared a family
of nine children.
The extent of his work can be best judged from the list
of charges that he had at different times :
In 1834, Junior preacher on Amelia circuit; 1835,
Granville circuit; 1836, Greensboro; 1837, Salisbury;
1838-42, Agent of Randolph-Macon College; 1843, P. E.
of Washington District; 1846, Henderson Circuit; 1847-
48, Raleigh Station; 1849-50, Roanoke Circuit; 1851-54.
Roanoke Circuit; 1855-58, P. E. Raleigh District; 1858,
transferred to the Virginia Conference; 1859-62, P. E.
Petersburg District ; 1863, Greenville Circuit ; 1864, Mili-
tary encampment at Garysburg; 1865, Greenville Circuit;
1866-68, Union Circuit; 1869, Supt. of Colored work;
1870, transferred to North Carolina Conference; 1871-3,
222 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
Supt. Colored work; 1874-76, Roanoke Circuit; 1877, Lit-
tleton Circuit; 1878, Henderson Circuit; 1879-80, Roa-
noke Circuit; 1881, Edgecombe Circuit; 1882-83, P. E.
Wilmington District; 1884, P. E. Greensboro District;
1885-88, Warrenton Circuit; 1889, Ridgeway Circuit.
As a pulpit orator, he had few equals in the North Caro-
lina Conference. His language was impassioned and
forceful, and he rarely ever spoke without leaving a pro-
found impression upon his hearers. His influence in the
Conference was almost unlimited. Whenever Dr. Burton
spoke, the audience gave immediate attention.
Dr. Burton was not a politician in the sense of seeking
advantage for himself. He never made an effort to ad-
vance his own interests in the Episcopacy of his church-
Several times his name was prominently mentioned in
connection with the bishopric, but he declined to put forth
any effort to obtain it. His principal ambition was to
serve, and, if he could do that in an humble position bet-
ter than in an exalted one, he was content. Whatever
honors, therefore, came to him were unsought and wholly
Dr. Burton was a man of intense religious convictions,
convincingly in earnest when trying to persuade, and dig-
nified in both speech and demeanor. While all that was
in his general character, he was not slow to see the point
of a joke, or to appreciate real shafts of wit. The follow-
ing paragraph is taken from an appreciative sketch of
him printed a few years ago in the Roanoke News.
"There was a humorous side to Dr. Burton's character
and many are the quaint stories told of him by those who
knew him well. One of these is that upon an occasion
when he was dining away from home, having helped a
lady quite plentifully, from a dish he was serving, with
more candor than good breeding she remarked, *I didn't
want a cart load.' Dr. Burton did not reply, but, biding
his time, he soon saw that she had eaten all on her plate,
and then said to her, 'Sister, back your cart up and I'll
load it again.' "
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 223
One of the most dramatic incidents in his career oc-
curred at the annual Conference in Greensboro in 1889. The
motion was made to put the name of R. 0. Burton on the
superannuated list. Immediately Dr. Burton took the
floor in his own behalf and combatted the motion, declar-
ing that he was able to do the work of the pastorate and
that he wanted to die with his armor on. He made one of
the greatest speeches of his life and succeeded in getting
the Conference to place his name on the supernumerary
list instead. He was thus allowed in his old age and failing
health to continue in the ministry though with light work.
Dr. Burton was married twice. His second wife was
Mary Olivia Pearson, His first marriage was blessed
with an offspring of four sons, his second of three sons
and two daughters, all of whom reached maturity. Hav-
ing reached his four score years by reason of his strength,
he breathed his last December 17, 1891, at his home near
ROBERT 0. BURTON, JR.
Among the able lawyers that Halifax County has pro-
duced, Robert O. Burton, Jr., ranks high. Although he
died at an age before most men attain their greatest suc-
cesses, he can be classed with those who have reflected
honor upon the county and state.
He was the fourth son of Dr. Robert O. Burton, a dis-
tinguished Methodist minister, and Elizabeth Joyner
Burton, daughter of Colonel Andrew Joyner, a veteran of
this War of 1812 and for a long time senator from Halifax
County. Born January 9, 1852, he was a mere lad at the
time of the Civil War and experienced the hardships of
that period and grew to manhood during Reconstruction
Days. Who can tell but that the privations of those days
taught him lessons that contributed no little to the sturdy
character he afterwards developed?
Of his boyhood days, one of his earliest friends, a
224 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
school-mate, has the following to say: "His early years
were spent like other boys of his neighborhood with the
distinction of being a favorite at all times among his com-
rades and school-fellows. At the old school taught by Mr.
(afterwards Dr.) Archer, it was this writer's privilege
to share this comradeship. Was a game of 'prisoners
base' proposed? 'Bob Burton' was the one boy clamored
for on both sides. Was a less bright boy troubled with
the solving of what seemed to him intricate problems in
percentage, or partial payments? Bob Burton was the
friend to stand between him and Mr. Archer's rod, while
he, too, sometimes felt the persuasive eloquence of this
same rod. His nature was calm, cool, thoughtful, and de-
liberate, and he was at all times ready to help the needy, de-
fend the weak, and exact justice for his childhood friends."
Early in life, Robert Burton felt himself called to the
practice of law. Unwilling, however, to enter this
learned profession without being fully equipped, as a
boy, he began to canvass the situation to secure the funds
needed for the completion of a college course. The dis-
asters of the war and reconstruction days left the boy,
along with others, almost penniless. His father's in-
come, now reduced, and his mother's fortune, now swept
away, added nothing to his prospects. His opportunity
to complete his academic education seemed indeed slight.
Determined, however, to go to college, the nineteen year
old boy taught school for a year near Ridgeway, N. C,
and practiced the most rigid economy in order to save
money. He boarded that year in the home of Thomas
Carroll, whose daughter he afterwards married. His
work as a teacher was as conscientiously done as his
larger labors afterwards as a lawyer were accomplished.
Finishing the school year as a teacher, he prepared to
enter college in the fall of 1872. He matriculated at Ran-
dolph-Macon and was a close student for about two years.
He did not take a degree, but his work was so well done
that he won the respect and confidence of the faculty and
student body. It is said that as a student he was methodi-
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 225
cal and systematic. When prevailed upon by his fellow
students to play ball with them, he would promise to play
only for a certain length of time, and when it was out, he
would quit and go back to his studies. No one was more
conscientious in his work than he.
Leaving college in 1873, he taught school again for a
year in order to pay some college debts. While teaching
he read law privately, and, in 1874, received his license
and located in the town of Halifax. There he formed a
partnership with Edward Conigland, which continued
until the tragic death of the latter in 1877. For fifteen
years, he practiced at the bar of Halifax and was one of
the leading barristers in that historic town. He fought
many legal battles during that time, and in all of them,
he won fairly or lost because his adversary had the bet-
In 1889, in search of a broader field, he moved to Rich-
mond, Va., and remained about a year. Returning to
North Carolina, he located in Raleigh, and, for nine years
was one of the leading attorneys of the capital city. En-
dowed with two natural gifts, a strong mind and un-
wearied diligence, Robert Burton built up a wide practice,
which began to be lucrative and exacting. Speaking of
his success, the News and Observer made the following
"Mr. Burton's most notable victory at the bar was
when he won the difficult and celebrated case of State vs.
Wilmington and Weldon Railroad. By the terms of its
charter, that railroad claimed and exercised exemption
from taxation. The Supreme Court of the United States
had affirmed their right to exemption in a case that
went up before it built any branches. After it had built
numerous branches and had come to be one of the best
paying railroads in the whole country, the State felt that,
even if the exemption on the main line could hold, the road
could not go on building numerous branch lines and feed-
ers without subjecting such property to taxation. There
was much agitation of the matter between 1888 and 1891,
226 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
during the administration of Governor Fowle. After an in-
vestigation of the matter, Governor Fowle and State
Treasurer Bain determined to test the right of the
claimed exemption, and Mr. Burton, Mr, Ryan, and per-
haps other attorneys were retained to represent the State.
Mr. Burton entered into this difficult case with all his
zeal, giving ahnost his whole time tn a study of the ques-
tion. Most of the law\'ers thought that the exemption
was unlimited and perpetual, and that nothing could be
done which would subject that property to taxation. The
difficulties were many. But Mr. Burton's ability and gen-
ius wxre able to overcome them. He made a test case that
was tried when Judge Connor was on the Superior Court
Bench. Judge Connor decided that Mr. Burton's con-
tention was sound and he had won first blood. The case
was one of such gi-eat importance that Judge Connor
rendered his decision in an ably written opinion. The
railroad appealed to the Supreme Court. Mr, Burton's
argument there was one of the ablest that has been heard
in the chamber of the State's highest court. The court
affirmed Judge Connor. The opinion of the court was de-
livered by Justice Clark. The opinions of Judge Connor
and Justice Clark, sustaining the contention made for
the State by Mr. Burton, made it so clear that the exemp-
tion could not long stand that at the next session of the
Legislature a compromise was effected by which the rail-
road surrendered all claim to exemption from taxation. It
is the most important case that has been decided in North
Carolina in a quarter of a century, and his success in that
case gave Mr. Burton wide reputation and rank with the
first lawj'ers of the State."
That case established his reputation in North Carolina
and, thereafter, his success was assured. Some years af-
terward, the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad Company,
having recognized his ability in the great legal battle
against them, secured his services to represent them at
the State capitol ; and, true to his instincts as a lawyer, he
accepted the trust, thus becoming the defender of the Co]'-
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 227
poration that he had so ardently fought a few years be-
fore, a distinct compliment to his ability and integrity.
The last legal battle in which he appeared was the cele-
brated case of Gattis vs. Kilgo, which was tried in Oxford
the latter part of November, 1900. His speech on that
occasion for the defendant was one of the best ever de-
livered in the Granville Courthouse. He went home and
took his bed with a raging fever. He died December 27,
Robert 0. Burton was a lawyer. He was devoted to
his profession, and avoided politics. May 29, 1878, he was
married to Mary Carroll, who survived him.
WILLIAM T. SHAW, JR.
One of the young men that Halifax County sent to the
Great European War and who came not back again was
William T. Shaw, Jr., who was killed in action in the Sec-
ond Battle of the Marne, July 16, 1918. The record of his
brief life deserves a place in the annals of the county.
William Shaw, son of Mr. and Mrs. W. T. Shaw, of Wel-
don, was born June 21, 1892. His early life was spent un-
der ideal influences, developing in him those high traits of
character that distinguished him throughout his brief
life. As a pupil in school, he easily led his classes and was
regarded by teachers and class-mates as a boy of superior
He was fond of athletics, and was usually leader of the
boys on the playground. In all his school life, both on
class and on the athletic field, he was the champion of fair
play. William Shaw's word went a long way in the decis-
ion of questions of right or wrong among his play-fellows.
Before completing the course at the Weldon High School,
he was sent to the College of Agriculture and Mechanic
Arts, Raleigh, N. C, for the purpose of studying textile
industry. There, as he had done in the preparatory school,
228 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
he led his classes, graduating with honor in 1914. While
in college, he was made captain of one of the companies of
the cadet battalion, and ranked high as a soldier and a dis-
ciplinarian. In a competitive drill, his company easily won
the prize as the best trained men in college.
Leaving college in 1914, he accepted work in one of the
cotton mills in Danville, Va., where he remained a year.
Returning to Weldon in 1915, he was made Superintendent
of one of the mills of the Weldon Manufacturing Company,
and continued in that capacity until August, 1917, when
he volunteered for service in the Great War. He entered
the Officers' Training Camp at Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., for
three months' intensive drill for a commission in the Unit-
ed States army. In November, he was commissioned cap-
tain, an honor bestowed upon few.
Upon winning this high honor at the Training Camp,
William Shaw was assigned to the Fifty-First Regiment
of Infantry and ordered to report for duty at Fort Ogle-
thorpe early in December, 1917. His duties there for four
months brought him in contact with some of the best
drilled men in the United States Army, and in every trial
of skill, Shaw was a match for the best.
Early in May, 1918, William Shaw's regiment received
orders for overseas duty and entrained for Hoboken. There
he was detained for several weeks, but finally embarka-
tion orders came and he joined his company in France
about the last of May. After a month's training behind
the lines, his regiment was ordered to the front about the
time the Germans made their last great drive in July. Ar-
riving upon the battle front, these fresh American troops,
anxious for a trial of strength with the famous Prussian
guards, were thrown into the thickest of the fight and
brought the advance of the enemy to a standstill. A few
days later when the time came for the great counter at-
tack of the allies, Captain Shaw led the charge upon the
hitherto invincible Prussians and forced them to give
ground ; but in that victorious advance, Shaw received a
mortal wound, dying in the arms of victory.
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 229
William Shaw was a hero and a patriot. When great
pressure was brought to bear upon him to remain in the
productive occupation he was in and take deferred classi-
fication in the draft, he replied that it was his duty to go
and fight for the cause of humanity and justice. When his
mother endeavored to persuade him to remain at home un-
til there was a more urgent call, he said, "It is my duty to
go, and, mother, it is your duty as a Christian to bid me
go." Thus did he see his duty clearly, and seeing it he
dared to perform it.
OTHERS WHO HAVE WROUGHT.
To give a biographical sketch of all the men who have
left their impress upon the County and State would take
these pages far beyond the original purpose, and yet there
are others whose lives and deeds are like "Apples of gold
in pictures of silver". Only a brief mention of them can
now be made because of the difficulties in getting posses-
sion of the facts. Perhaps some Boswell will be induced
to do the delving that is necessary to discover the hidden
gems, and will some time bring them to the light.
Abner Nash, who, afterwards, became Governor of the
State, lived in the county many years. He was, for sev-
eral times, a member of the General Assembly, part of the
time representing the town of Halifax and at other times
the County. He owned at one time immense tracts of land
on the Roanoke river, but he later sold his belongings and
moved to Hillsboro.
Rev. Thomas Burgess was a pioneer Episcopal minis-
ter, who was among the first religious teachers to work
in the borders of the present county. He was one of the
few ministers of the Church of England in North Caro-
lina in the middle of the eighteenth century. His field was
the parish of Edgecombe, which later became the County
of Halifax. He was for years rector of the Episcopal
Church in the town of Halifax.
230 HISTORY OF HALIFAX COUNTY
William E. Webb was an educator of ability and a man
of considerable influence in the town of Halifax during
the first quarter of the eighteenth century. In addition
to being a teacher and Principal of Union Academy, he
was for three terms a representative from the county in
the General Assembly.
John Campbell was for some years editor of the Hali-
fax Minerva, a weekly newspaper published in the town
of Halifax about 1830. He later quit the newspaper work
and came to Weldon to live, became a railroad employe,
organized the first lodge of Odd Fellows in North Caro-
lina, and later, became the first Grand Master of the Grand
Jurisdiction of North Carolina.
William H. Kitchin was one of the Democratic war-
horses of the period following the Civil War. Leading a
forlorn hope in 1878, he accepted the nomination for Con-
gress, and, by adroit political maneuvering, divided the
opposition to him into two hostile camps and was elected
by a plurality vote. His influence in politics was felt in
the State for a number of years, and he was considered one
of the best stump speakers in Eastern North Carolina.
His two eminent sons. Will and Claude, are still adding
honor to the County of Halifax.
Rev. Thomas G. Lowe was, during the period following
the Civil War, a distinguished minister of the Methodist
Church. He was an eloquent speaker and was known all
over the State as one of the best equipped preachers of
the Methodist denomination. He lived in the town of
William A. Dunn, for a number of years following the
Civil War, was a prominent lawyer of Scotland Neck. He
had a large practice, and, for a long time, was a leader
socially, economically, and commercially of his section of
John A. Collins was a prominent physician of Enfield,
and a political leader for almost a generation. Small of
body but with a big heart and brain, he wielded a large
influence in the affairs of the county until his death in
BUILDERS OF THE COUNTY 231
William H. Day was a lawyer of considerable ability of
Weldon during Reconstruction Days, and for years after-
ward. He was one of the best criminal lawyers of his day.
In later life he moved to Raleigh and was prominent at
the bar of that city when he died.
W. T. Whitfield, who was born near Weldon, made his
home in that place in 1834 when a boy fourteen years old
and was a factor in the upbuilding of the place for seventy-
six years, dying at the age of ninety. For thirty-five years,
he was the agent of the Southern Express Company in
Weldon. He was a prominent Odd Fellow, and did much
in building up that brotherhood in North Carolina.
And these lived and wrought and "slept with their
fathers", and their works do follow them.
Albemarle, the ironclad ram used
by the Confederates in the Civil
Allen, Elisha, 90
Allen, Hamlin, 90.
Allen, James, 53, 57.
Allen, John, 46, 47.
Allen, Walter N., sketch of, 204,-206.
Alston, William, 25, 28.
Alston, Willis, 31, 34, 37, 40, 43, 68,
105; sketch of, 168.
Alston, Willis, Jr., 69; sketch of, 169,
Ashe, John B., 7, 68, 69, 95, 103;
sketch of, 151-153.
Baker, Blake, representative of Hali-
fax County in Colonial Assembly,
Baker, L. S., 121.
Barrow, Jacob, 42.
Bertie precinct, organized in 1722, 6;
Halifax County included in, 7; new
precinct formed from, called Edge-
combe precinct, 7.
Blount, William, 65.
/ Bradford, John, 25, 28, 31, 33, 40, 41;
'' sketch of, 172, 173.
Branch, John, 53, 54, 68, 72, 77, 99,
105, 144; sketch of, 177-181.
Branch, L. O'B., 75, 121; sketch of,
Burgess, Rev. Thomas, 229.
Burke, Thomas, 32.
Burton, Hutchings G., 103; curious
story connected with his death,
140; sketch of, 181-183.
Burton, Rev. Robert O., sketch of,
Burton, Robert O, Jr., sketch of, 223-
Bynum, Jesse A., 99, 103; rivalry be-
tween, and Robert Potter, 186-188.
Campbell, John, 81, 230.
Campbell, John K., 90.
Caswell, Richard, 40, 43, 45, 05.
Champion, John, 37, 41.
Chowan, river, 6.
Clarendon County, 9.
Clark, David C, 121.
Collins, John A., 230.
Colonial Assembly, list of representa-
tives to, from Borough and County
of Halifax, 21.
Committee of Safety appointed, 25;
met in Halifax, Dec. 21, 1774, 26.
Conigland, Edward, sketch of, 194,
Constitutional Convention and Con-
Cox, P., 37.
Cox, W. R., 121.
Crawley, David, 33.
Crowell family, 136-138.
Daniel, John R. J., 99; sketch of,
Daniel, Joseph J., 72, 99, 103; sketch
Daniel, Junius, 121; sketch of, 196-
Davie, William R., 63, 65, 68, 69, 103,
144; s'ketch of, 156-162.
Davis, James, 42.
Davis, Orondates, 53, 68, 105; sketch
of, 171, 172.
Dawson, Henry, 37, 42.
Day, William, 43.
Day, William H., 231.
Dewey, Stephen, first representative
of town of Halifax in Colonial As-
sembly, 16, 17.
Drew, William, 72, 103.
Dunn, William A., 230.
Eaton, Thomas, 35, 43.
Edgecombe precinct organized in
1732, 7; long contest over, 7, 11;
became Edgecombe County in
1738, 8; divided into two parishes,
of which Edgecombe Parish be-
came Halifax County, 8.
Elliott, Gilbert, constructor of the
Confederate ram Albemarle, 116;
description of the vessel by, quoted,
Emery, Thomas L., sketch of, 206-
Enfield, oldest town in Halifax Count-
ty, 11, 12; made county seat of
Edgecombe County in 1745, 11, 12;
seat of district court of Edgecombe,
Northampton, and Granville, 12.
Enfield Academy, 77.
Farmwell Grove Academy, 77.
Freemasonry in Halifax, 92-98.
Geddy, John, 25, 27, 43.
Glasgov/, James, 40, 43.
Green, James, 31, 40.
Green, James, Jr., secretary of Pro-
vincial Congress at Halifax, April
4, 1776, 31.
Halifax County, formed in 1758
from part of Edgecombe precinct,
7, 14; settled as early as 1732, 11;
population in 1758 nearly 3000, 14;
Halifax selected as county seat, 15;
resolutions passed by freeholders of,
August 22, 1774, 23, 24; spirit of
independence in, pronounced, 30,
31; its part in the Revolutionary
War, 31-61; and the national consti-
tution, 65, 66; influential in Federal
Congress, 69; roster of two com-
panies of volunteers in war of 1812
from, 70, 71; visit of Lafayette to,
73, 74; schools in, 76-79; news-
papers in, 80, 81; coming of rail-
roads, 87; cultivation of fruits
popular industry, 87; in the Mexi-
can War, 100; in the State Legisla-
ture, 103-105; in the Civil War,
107-127; reconstruction days in,
128-131; list of state representa-
tives, 1891-1917, 132; active part
of county in the World War, 134;
members of National House of
Representatives from, 144; State
officers from, 144, 145.
Halifax, town, chosen as county seat
of Halifax County, 15; occupied by
the British, 57; celebrates surren-
der of Cornwallis, 62; Visit of Wash-
ington to, and his description of, in
his Diary, 66, 67; for many years
after the Revolution political centre
of State, 80; list of representatives
in the State Legislature, 102; his-
toric homes in, 141, 142.
Hamilton, John, 28, 34; sketch of, 38,
Harnett, Cornelius, 28, 32, 37, 40, 43.
Haynes, Thomas, 25.
Haywood, Egbert, 25, 28, 33, 40, 53,
Haywood, John, 68; sketch of, 165-
Haywood, William, 43.
Hewes, Joseph, 34, 37, 41.
Hill, Thomas N., sketch of, 215-218.
Hodge, Abraham, 81; sketch of, 176,
Hogan, James, 25, 27, 31, 34, 40, 41,
42, 52; sketch of, 162-164.
Hooper, William, 34, 37, 41.
Indians, various tribes in Halifax
County before the coming of the
whites, 3; cultivation of soil by,
rude, 4; peaceable relations with
whites, 4; disappeared by 1720, 5.
Ivedell, James, 66.
Irwin, Henry, 28.
Johnston, Samuel, president of Pro-
vincial Congress at Halifax, April
Jones, Albritton, 42.
Jones, Allen, 32, 33, 53, 56, 57, 61.
Jones, John Paul, 48-51; sketch of,
Jones, Thomas, 32, 42, 43.
Jones, Willie, 25, 26, 27, 31, 34, 37, 40,
41, 42, 45,,' 53, 62, 65, 67, 68, 95;
sketch of, 153-156.
Jovner, Andrew, 88, 91; sketch of, 190-
Kehukbe Creek, settlement on, in
1742, 12; oldest Baptist church in
North Carolina at, 12.
Kinchin, M., 32.
Kitchin, Claude, 133, 134.
Kitchin, W. H., 133, 230.
La Vallie Female Academy, 78.
Leech, Joseph, 43.
London, David, 92.
Long, Nicholas, 25, 27, 34, 41, 57, 68;
sketch of, 170, 171.
Long, William Lunsford, 90.
Lynch, George Green, 212-214.
Lowe, Rev. Thomas, G., 230.
McCuLLOCH, Benjamin, 34, 40, 68,
McCullough, Alexander, representa-
tive of Halifax County in Colonial
Assembly, 16, 17.
Martin, Alexander, 65, 105.
Miller, Andrew, Merchant of Halifax,
boycotted for refusing to sign Reso-
lutions of the Association, 26; prop-
erty confiscated in 1779, 27.
Milner, James, 27.
Montford, Joseph, 16, 21, 26, 27, 92,
94, 95, 98, 97.
Montford, Henry, 42, 53, 68.
Montford, Joseph, 92, 94, 95, 96, 97,
143; sketch of, 149-151.
Moore, B. F., 99, 105; sketch of, 188-
Moore, James, story of a privateer's
adventures by, 138, 139.
Munday, Caleb, 37.
Nash, Abner, 22, 32, 41, 56, 57, 229.
Nash, Francis, 27.
Newspapers in Halifax, 80, 81.
Noblin, William, 37, 42.
North Carolina, early settlers of,
from Virginia, 9.
Parker, Francis M., sketch of, 201,
Parsons, James M., 37.
Pearce, Josiah, 41. -
Penn, John, 34, 37, 105.
Peterson, E. K., 90.
Potter, Robert, 103; rivalry between,
and Jesse A. Bynum, 186-188.
Provincial Congress at Halifax, 25,
27; authorizes enrollment of minute
men, 27, 28; organizes Provincial
Council, 28; important steps in
favor of independence of the col-
Provincial Council of Safety, at Hali-
fax, 36, 37, 40.
QuARLES, Peter, 68.
Quit-rents, trouble over, 18-20.
Regulators, in Orange County, 22,
Religion, progress of, in Halifax, 82-
Rice, Nathaniel, 7.
Roanoke Navigation Company, open-
ing of Canal by, 88.
Roanoke, river, 3; called "Morotuck"
by the Indians, 7.
Royal White Hart Lodge, 92-98.
Scotland Neck Female Academy, 78.
Scurlock Thomas, 54.
Sevier, John, 41.
Shaw, William T., Jr., sketch of, 227-
Simmons, James, 90.
Smith, Peter Evans, sketch of, 218-
Smith, Richard H., sketch of, 209-212.
Spaight, Richard Dobbs, 65.
Starkey, Edward, 43.
Sumner, David, 25, 27, 28, 31, 34.
Sumner, Jethro, 28.
Sumner, Josiah, 34.
Tories, very few in Halifax County,
Tyron, William, governor of Province
in 1765, 22; calls on counties for
troops to fight Regulators, 23.
Tuscaroras, Indians who inhabited
Halifax County before the coming
of the whites, 3.
Union Academy, 77.
Vine Hill Academy, 77.
Webb, John, 27, 28, 32, 34, 37, 68.
Webb, William E., 77, 230.
Weldon, Samuel, 25, 34, 40, 41, 43;
sketch of, 165.
Weldon, William, 53, 54.
Wheaton, John, 43.
-'^Whitaker, John, 53.
Whitaker, Matthew C, 68, 107.
Whi taker, Spier, 105; sketch of, 202,
Whitefield, W. T., 231.
Willis, Augustine, 53.
Williams, Joseph John, 25, 31, 35.
Williamson, Hugh, 65.
Wilmington & Weldon Railroad,
opened in 1840, 89.
-^-^ 9 6 6
V^ E7I Franklin St.
Deacidified using the Bookkeeper proce;
Neutralizing Agent: Magnesiurri Oxide
PRESERVATION TECHNOLOGIES, Lf
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